Category: Secrecy

Julian Assange has been unfairly criticized for failing to curate his disclosures.

| October 23, 2016 | Reply

Julian Assange has been unfairly criticized for failing to curate his disclosures. Truthdig responds:

“Here’s a question few are asking: Would Assange, who set out to perform the honorable service of exposing government corruption, behave as he does today if he, a single individual with limited resources, had not been relentlessly pursued into the corner of a single room for 5½ years by people atop the most powerful state in civilized history? And can he, under burden of stress and loss of staff, associations and resources, be expected to fulfill the ethical obligations he once honored and still perform the service of making essential, willfully concealed information public?

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Glenn Greenwald on publishing hacks: The more powerful a person is, the less privacy they have.

| October 23, 2016 | Reply

Glenn Greenwald set forth 5 principles in this article on The Intercept. The article includes a video discussion with Chris Hayes. One of the principles is this:

Last night, I was on Chris Hayes’s show (video below) discussing the Podesta email leak and made this point, and some people reacted as though this were some bizarre, exotic claim — rather than what it is: the fundamental principle of journalism as well the basis of numerous laws. Of course it’s the case that the more power someone has, the less privacy they have, and every media outlet, literally every day, operates on that principle, as do multiple sectors of law.

That there are different standards of privacy for different people based on their power and position is axiomatic. That’s why laws like FOIA requiring disclosure (including of emails) apply only to public officials but not to private citizens: It embraces the proposition that those who wield public power submit to greater transparency than private citizens do. This same principle is why people cheered when the NYT published Trump’s tax return even though they’d be horrified if the NYT published the tax return of ordinary citizens — because people like Trump who wield or seek great political power sacrifice some degree of privacy.

Here are the five principles Greenwald sets forth:
1. A source’s motives are irrelevant in deciding whether to publish
2. Journalists constantly publish material that is stolen or illegally obtained.
3. The more public power someone has, the less privacy they are entitled to claim
4. Whether something is “shocking” or “earth-shattering” is an irrelevant standard
5. All journalists are arbiters of privacy and gatekeepers of information

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Why Wikileaks is critical to Democracy

| August 6, 2016 | Reply

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, WikiLeaks has become the rebel library of Alexandria. It is the single most significant collection of information that doesn’t exist elsewhere, in a searchable, accessible, citable form, about how modern institutions actually behave. And it’s gone on to set people free from prison, where documents have been used in their court cases; hold the CIA accountable for renditions programs; feed into election cycles, which have resulted in the termination of, in some case—or contributed to the termination of governments, in some cases, taken the heads of intelligence agencies, ministers of defense and so on. So, you know, our civilizations can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilisation is. We can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand.

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About internet privacy

| June 1, 2015 | 3 Replies

Excellent discussion here, Amy Goodman interviewing Julian Assange of Wikileaks. This addresses an issue that repeatedly occurs to me: Unless we can know what the spy agencies are actually doing, how can we know that any legislative enactments are having any effect at all? Even if Congress passed a law stating that the NSA should cease collecting any information about any person in the absence of probable cause and a warrant, how could we possibly know that the NSA is obeying that law. Even if the NSA is sued, how do we know that the NSA would honestly comply with subpoenas or discovery?

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Before we get to Germany and what you’ve revealed there, I want to stay with the U.S. for a minute, because President Obama famously said that the debate over privacy and surveillance would have been had without Edward Snowden. Can you respond to that?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Oh, I think it’s obvious to everyone that that is false. How can you have a debate with secret interpretations of the law? How can you debate them? They’re secret. Similarly, what are the actual actions that are occurring, not just in policy, but what is actually happening? What are these bureaucracies actually doing? If you don’t know, how can you possibly have the debate? Information is classified, no debate is possible.

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John Oliver and Edward Snowden reframe the NSA Debate

| April 6, 2015 | 3 Replies

Brilliant framing of a complex topic by John Oliver. Why should people care about NSA spying on American citizens? This video combines interviews with people on the street with an in-person discussion between John Oliver and Edward Snowden in Russian. The reframing: dick pics.

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War on Terror: The medicine is worse than the disease

| March 27, 2015 | Reply

Common Dreams reports:

In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001.

According to Gould’s forward, co-authored with Dr. Tim Takaro, the public is purposefully kept in the dark about this toll.

“A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization cause by decades of outside military intervention,” they write. “As such, under-reporting of the human toll attributed to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate of through self-censorship, has been key to removing the ‘fingerprints’ of responsibility.”

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Claim by Editor of Major German Newspaper: CIA planted pro-war stories

| February 3, 2015 | Reply

Here’s an excerpt from this stunning but unsurprising admission:

Becoming the first credentialed, well-known media insider to step forward and state publicly that he was secretly a “propagandist,” an editor of a major German daily has said that he personally planted stories for the CIA. Saying he believes a medical condition gives him only a few years to live, and that he is filled with remorse, Dr. Udo Ulfkotte . . . said . . . he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name.

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Living in a dual state

| February 18, 2014 | 1 Reply

Chris Hedges explains that U.S. citizens now live in a “dual state”:

We live in what the German political scientist Ernst Fraenkel called “the dual state.” Totalitarian states are always dual states. In the dual state civil liberties are abolished in the name of national security. The political sphere becomes a vacuum “as far as the law is concerned,” Fraenkel wrote. There is no legal check on power. Official bodies operate with impunity outside the law. In the dual state the government can convict citizens on secret evidence in secret courts. It can strip citizens of due process and detain, torture or assassinate them, serving as judge, jury and executioner. It rules according to its own arbitrary whims and prerogatives. The outward forms of democratic participation—voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation—are hollow, political stagecraft. Fraenkel called those who wield this unchecked power over the citizenry “the prerogative state.”  The masses in a totalitarian structure live in what Fraenkel termed “the normative state.” The normative state, he said, is defenseless against the abuses of the prerogative state. Citizens are subjected to draconian laws and regulations, as well as arbitrary searches and arrests. The police and internal security are omnipotent. The internal workings of power are secret. Free expression and opposition political activity are pushed to the fringes of society or shut down. Those who challenge the abuses of power by the prerogative state, those who, like Snowden, expose the crimes carried out by government, are made into criminals. Totalitarian states always invert the moral order. It is the wicked who rule. It is the just who are damned.

The fact that we feel free does not mean that we are free:

Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us. No one who lives under constant surveillance, who is subject to detention anywhere at any time, whose conversations, messages, meetings, proclivities and habits are recorded, stored and analyzed, can be described as free. The relationship between the U.S. government and the U.S. citizen is now one of master and slave. Yet the prerogative state assures us that our rights are sacred, that it abides by the will of the people and the consent of the governed.

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Stop Watching Us Campaign aimed at NSA

| February 12, 2014 | Reply
Stop Watching Us Campaign aimed at NSA

StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at https://rally.stopwatching.us. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA’s unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at https://eff.org.

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