RSSCategory: Propaganda

Some deeper issues regarding the man who leaked the NSA’s secrets

June 9, 2013 | By | Reply More

This article about Edward Snowden, by Glenn Greenwald:

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

You’ll find Greenwald’s 12-minute video interview of Edward Snowden here.

I posted about Greenwald’s article on Facebook. I received the following comment:

I’m so glad I elected a 29 year old Booz Allen contract employee to make sensitive national security judgments for me. He’s so noble and righteous I’m sure that means he also is wise and has excellent, seasoned judgment.

Here is my response:

On July 4, we will celebrate the claim that U.S. governmental power comes from the People of the U.S. No, we didn’t elect Edward Snowden. Nor did we elect the military industrial complex. Nor do real people have much, if any, say in the national primaries–big money chooses them and then they give us the illusion of choice. Nor did anyone amend the U.S. Constitution to engraft terrorism exceptions to the First, Fourth or Fifth Amendments. Nor did I ever have a chance to vote to require the mainstream media to expand investigative journalism and diversity, so that anyone out there in a position of official authority would be forced to provide real answers to real questions, so that our national elections would be a legitimate exercise of grassroots power. What we are left with is a realpolitik, and in this massively dysfunctional system, the U.S. Surveillance State does whatever the hell it chooses to do, while the our obeisant news media villainizes other countries that do exactly what we do. The result is perpetual war, attendant with severely warped domestic governmental spending priorities. We are on an unsustainable path where war is the official excuse for hundreds of requests to fix fixable problems. Our politicians complete this circle by selling us nightmares (terrorism) and claiming that they can fix the problem with non-stop violent xenophobia, and now, spying on all of us. The question is what one should do when confronted with pervasive illegal spying by the U.S. government? If there is no perfect answer, what is a half-decent imperfect one? And more fundamentally, shouldn’t the People be giving their consent to such an ever-growing out-of-check system of the type described by Edward Snowden? Eddie, when did you vote to authorize the U.S. government to listen in on your phone calls? When did you vote to allow such widespread surveillance that investigative reporting through traditional outlets has almost come to a stop, meaning that we’re all very much in the dark? When were our representatives going to get around to telling us about these egregious NSA practices, even in the abstract? The official answers are “never” and “trust us.” There is no longer any reasonable way for law-abiding citizen to identify or address the underlying rot. The options are thus A) to do nothing to expose these abuses and B ) do something.

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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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Common Sense, Grammar, and Original Intent

April 8, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More
Common Sense, Grammar, and Original Intent

According to recent polls, a growing number of Americans believe that the Second Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights in order to guarantee that our government will not impose any kind of tyranny upon us. That an armed populace is a bulwark against government oppression. [More . . . ]

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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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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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Chris Hedges: Democracy itself at stake in the trial of Bradley Manning

March 4, 2013 | By | Reply More

Chris Hedges, writing at TruthDig:

This trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter, war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth—the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings—are from now on to be charged with “aiding the enemy.” All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the U.S. government’s use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.

The cowardice of The New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde, all of which used masses of the material Manning passed on to WikiLeaks and then callously turned their backs on him, is one of journalism’s greatest shames. These publications made little effort to cover Manning’s pretrial hearings, a failure that shows how bankrupt and anemic the commercial press has become . . .

Manning has done what anyone with a conscience should have done. In the courtroom he exhibited—especially given the prolonged abuse he suffered during his thousand days inside the military prison system—poise, intelligence and dignity. He appealed to the best within us. And this is why the government fears him. America still produces heroes, some in uniform. But now we lock them up.

I know a lot of people are uneasy about calling Manning a hero because they consider him a criminal because he apparently broke laws. I wonder whether they would agree that by exposing lawless American warmongering and exposing huge numbers of civilian casualties covered up by the U.S. Manning has saved many lives by shortening, curtailing and discouraging the reckless use of the U.S. military. Can’t a thing declared to be criminal be the right thing to do? Was Martin Luther King merely a “criminal,” or was he doing the right thing? The case against Bradley Manning is a battle over whether the People of the United States, supposedly the ones running this country, have the right to know what their own government is doing. Or, on the other hand, the U.S. Government has the right to frighten off the relatively few remaining quality journalists out there by threatening a bizarre use of the federal Espionage Act. It’s that simple.

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Heroic Bradley Manning makes detailed statement to the court

March 2, 2013 | By | 6 Replies More
Heroic Bradley Manning makes detailed statement to the court

This statement proves that most media outlets have been slandering Bradley Manning. He is an extremely intelligent and courageous man with a real conscience. He is heroic in every sense of the word, as discussed in detail by Glenn Greenwald.

Manning is absolutely right when he said today that the documents he leaked “are some of the most significant documents of our time”. They revealed a multitude of previously secret crimes and acts of deceit and corruption by the world’s most powerful factions. Journalists and even some government officials have repeatedly concluded that any actual national security harm from his leaks is minimal if it exists at all. To this day, the documents Manning just admitted having leaked play a prominent role in the ability of journalists around the world to inform their readers about vital events. The leaks led to all sorts of journalism awards for WikiLeaks. Without question, Manning’s leaks produced more significant international news scoops in 2010 than those of every media outlet on the planet combined.

This was all achieved because a then-22-year-old Army Private knowingly risked his liberty in order to inform the world about what he learned. He endured treatment which the top UN torture investigator deemed “cruel and inhuman”, and he now faces decades in prison if not life. He knew exactly what he was risking, what he was likely subjecting himself to. But he made the choice to do it anyway because of the good he believed he could achieve, because of the evil that he believed needed urgently to be exposed and combated, and because of his conviction that only leaks enable the public to learn the truth about the bad acts their governments are doing in secret.

If you are wondering why Manning’s trial is not being freely broadcast, that’s a good question.

Before going further, a question: What should a person of good conscience do when he or she discovers that the government is repeatedly lying, and that people are dying, getting maimed and becoming homeless because of those lies? What would we say about someone who had the capability of exposing this ongoing dangerous conduct but did nothing? Wouldn’t we call those kinds of people “cowards,” “accomplices,” or “immoral”? What do we normally call someone who risks his or her own life for the benefit of others? We call them heroes, even if what they are doing breaks formal laws. Since when are people allowed to do nothing in the face of evil just because those in power put a law on the books to scare them or muzzle them?

Here are a few excerpts, in Manning’s own words, of what he did and why:

[More . . . ]

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Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

February 27, 2013 | By | 10 Replies More
Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]

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How to advance your career as a “national security expert.”

February 18, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald reports:

[t]hink tank “scholars” don’t get invited to important meetings by “national security professionals” in DC if they point out that the US is committing war crimes and that the US president is a war criminal. They don’t get invited to those meetings if they argue that the US should be bound by the same rules and laws it imposes on others when it comes to the use of force. They don’t get invited if they ask US political officials to imagine how they would react if some other country were routinely bombing US soil with drones and cruise missiles and assassinating whatever Americans they wanted to in secret and without trial. As the reaction to Cornel West shows, making those arguments triggers nothing but ridicule and exclusion.

One gets invited to those meetings only if one blindly affirms the right of the US to do whatever it wants, and then devotes oneself to the pragmatic question of how that unfettered license can best be exploited to promote national interests. The culture of DC think tanks, “international relations” professionals, and foreign policy commenters breeds allegiance to these American prerogatives and US power centers – incentivizes reflexive defenses of US government actions – because, as Gelb says, that is the only way to advance one’s careerist goals as a “national security professional”. If you see a 20-something aspiring “foreign policy expert” or “international relations professional” in DC, what you’ll view, with some rare exceptions, is a mindlessly loyal defender of US force and prerogatives. It’s what that culture, by design, breeds and demands.

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