Monday, June 10, 2013

Call me naive...

Call me naive, but for now -- provisionally, temporarily -- I'm going accept Snowden at face value.

The fact that he worked (in the end) for a private contractor goes some ways toward explaining the discrepancy between the Prism documents and the disclaimer issued by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and their allies. These companies all insisted that they never allowed the government to access their servers. But what if a private company is functioning as an NSA cut-out?

True, my provisional "trust Snowden" stance means revising a number of earlier theories (most of which I entertained privately without annoying you folks with them). Needless to say, I remain open to arguments from anyone who posits that Snowden is himself part of a snow job. After all, we're in Spooksville. Of course it remains possible that we're being lied to, and that the person we think has acted out of conscience is really acting under orders.

Here's one reason to mistrust Snowden: His revelations never touched upon the Israeli angle. I linked to Michael Kelley's story days ago -- and as far as I can tell, nobody else has followed up on it. The major media have given us Prism up the wazoo, yet we've heard nothing further about Unit 8200.

I'm also saddened that Snowden sought refuge in Hong Kong, for the reasons James Fallows gives in the Atlantic:
But here is the reality. Hong Kong is not a sovereign country. It is part of China -- a country that by the libertarian standards Edward Snowden says he cares about is worse, not better, than the United States. China has even more surveillance of its citizens (it has gone very far toward ensuring that it knows the real identity of everyone using the internet); its press is thoroughly government-controlled; it has no legal theory of protection for free speech; and it doesn't even have national elections. Hong Kong lives a time-limited separate existence, under the "one country, two systems" principle, but in a pinch, it is part of China.
I'm particularly fascinated by the reaction of conservatives. Snowden is precisely the sort of person who -- if he had acted during the Bush years -- would have evinced blood-curdling cries throughout blogistan right. He'd be labeled a traitor. The Tea partiers would want him dead, dead, dead. But Snowden has criticized not Bush but Obama. And that -- you should pardon the expression -- is a horse of a different color.

Perhaps this story will finally take us beyond the endless game of shirts-vs-skins. Of all people, Peggy Noonan -- yes, Peggy freakin' Noonan -- has written what we might call a post-partisan analysis of the rise of the national security state. Yes, Saint Ronnie's most gushing fangirl has actually written something worth reading. In fact, large chunks of this piece are worth quoting:
The thing political figures fear most is a terror event that will ruin their careers. The biggest thing they fear is that a bomb goes off and it can be traced to something they did or didn’t do, an action they did or didn’t support. They all fear being accused of not doing enough to keep the citizenry safe.

This is true of Republicans and Democrats. Their anxiety has no ideology.
Because of that primal political fear, there is a built-in bias within the U.S. government toward doing too much and not too little. There is a built-in bias toward using too much muscle, too much snooping, too much gathering of data. The bias is toward overreach. The era of metadata encourages all this: There’s always more information to be got.
Because of the built-in bias in the system—the bias to do too much, to go too far—the creation of an invasive American surveillance state is probably inevitable.
There is no way a government in the age of metadata, with the growing capacity to listen, trace, tap, track and read, will not eventually, and even in time systematically, use that power wrongly, maliciously, illegally and in areas for which the intelligence gathering was never intended. People are right to fear that the government’s surveillance power will be abused. It will be. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that humans are and will be in charge of it, and humans have shown throughout history a bit of a tendency to play every trick and bend and break laws.
Noonan goes on to engage in a few idiocies -- a jab at Clinton, a huzzah for Issa -- but even so, the text excerpted above contains much wisdom.

I'd go further. I'll strike a partisan note: Much of the blame goes to the right-wing crazy-making machine, which endlessly (and baselessly) labeled Obama a Muslim traitor. Everyone knows that if a major terror incident were to hit this country, one-third of the citizens would immediately decry Obama as the mastermind of the crime. The wackos would jump to that conclusion regardless of the facts of the case.

I can understand why a President routinely accused of such inanities would go to outrageous lengths to attain the label "Mr. Tough-on-Terror." 

But in doing so, he has helped to create a dangerous set of tools. One day, those tools will be in the hands of someone else. That someone else could be a president I trust even less than I trust Obama.

So never mind Snowden, never mind his motives, never mind how we got here. Here we are. That's the important point: We had slid into a foul situation, and now we've been given an opportunity to rectify it -- to change the national security state.

We need a movement. We need laws. We need a constitutional amendment. We need an ironclad right to privacy. We need to shut down that new NSA facility in Utah, because we the people did not vote for it and we do not want it. We need to tell our lawmakers that filching and storing our private data is tantamount to "interception" -- i.e., eavesdropping.

We need to tell the NSA that our spies have no right to acquire any private email or telephone data from American citizens. We need to shout with one voice:

You want my email? Get a warrant!
Finally found the portion of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong dealing with the young man's decision.

"The US has extradition agreements with Hong Kong with an exception for political offences. According to the US-Hong Kong Extradition Treaty signed in 1997, Hong Kong has the “right of refusal when surrender implicates the ‘defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy’” of the People’s Republic of China…

The rise of Libertarianism is something we need to watch closely, as it seems to have two basic personality types; Conservatives running away from that moniker, and true civil liberties champions.

It's gonna be fun separating the two.


His handle Verax is obviously an homage to Assange, who used Mendax.
Salon has this today:

The NSA whistleblower could exploit a loophole in the Chinese territory's asylum system to buy himself some time
By Benjamin Carlson
Obama could have taken advantage of the intense anti-Iraq War feeling on his first election. He did not. A guy vetted by Rahm Emanuel was not about to...not about to bring the Bush WMD lie machine to at the least a "reconciliation committee" at the most, a war crime council.
And not about to reduce the Police State size on the way to his (failed) Afghan War surge/drone bomb campaign.

Withe neolibs you hardly need neocons to do the Empire and Israel's bidding.
Without getting all xenophic here, anyone else seeing a bit of a connection between various scandals, threats and terror events occurring recently?

Darrell Issa, Tareq & Michaele Salahi, John Zawahri, Natalie Khawam, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

The connection here not being Muslim, but middle eastern Christian. Anyone surprised that Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge are not all over the Santa Monica shooting as they would usually be if this event had been Muslim?
Peggy Noonan has often appeared, to me at least, as a hack rightie-writer with a genuine conscience, buried somewhere beneath the glossy makeup and charm-school smile. If only Barbara Olson had been blessed with a comparable "inner voice," she might have flat-out refused to play her mysterious role of yesteryear.

Ms. Noonan is just getting a bit uncomfortable, once again, with her well-paid duties cheerleading for the dark side. Maybe someday when she's banked enough of those fat paychecks from the right-wing noise machine she'll defect to a gentler place like Tikkun or Christianity Today.

But I don't ever expect her to really spill the beans about the the huge "tissue of lies" her nimble and well-manicured fingers (at the keyboard) have helped to weave over the years.
Ken Hoop, you ought to know better thatn to heap all blame on Obama for the police state that the USA has become. It has been going on for about 50 years. Since the point when Americans allowed a faceless transnational secret elite to take over their destiny and shoot JFK. Obama is a patsy. Just like Bush was a patsy. And guess what? Progressives are already yappin about how the next patsy President is going to fix it all! (Hillary). People should know better, but many people are idiots.

How do you stop having patsies for President? You need to get at the guys behind the scenes manipulating everything. Until you do that you are simply pissing into the wind(which some enjoy I might add). If America wanted to get back on its feet, it would go after the transnational group of thugs that created 9/11 as a means of privatizing shared assets and stripping the wealth of the middle class into their own pockets. We basically know who is behind 9/11. How do we know? You can find out easily by tracing all of the groups that had foreknowledge... because those who had foreknowledge were closest to the core where the 9/11 plot was hatched. Trace back to the core, look at the connections, and there you have it. (The core with foreknowledge is mostly NOT Muslim in case you didn't know) That information about who knew is out there everywhere but not investigated. But if you were to go over to Democratic Underground, or many other sites you will be censored for talking about it. Why? Because the gatekeepers suck at the tit of that 9/11 core. Democratic Underground is run by a guy from Yale.. so don't expect him to enlighten anyone on anything that matters. So see, Americans have chosen to be enslaved. There are dozens and dozens of points at which this police state total surveillance trend could have been reversed but when you have legions of idiots being led around by the nose, and who by shear numbers move opinion this way and that... it is hard for individuals to go against the herd. And then on top of that, you have this 9/11 core working over time to keep the left and the right punching away at each other instead of uniting.
Obama has not created a set of tools. Obama is using tools legislated by Congress. And because of that legislation those tools will be in place for the next president, but not because Obama instituted them.
Edward Snowden has already confirmed both what I said about allegations that he is committing treason and aiding an enemy of the United States and the relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China and why that difference is important.

"Sure, so there's a couple questions that are sorted of embedded in the questioning of the choice of Hong Kong. Uh, the first is that China is an enemy of the United States. It's not, I mean there are conflicts between the United States government and the Chinese PRC government but the peoples inherently, I mean we don't care, we trade with each other freely ya know, we're not at war, we're not in armed conflict, and we're not trying to be. We're the largest trading partners out there for each other. Um, additionally, Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech, uh, people think China 'oh, Great Firewall'. Mainland China does have significant restrictions on free speech but uh the Hong Kong, people of Hong Kong, uh have a long tradition of protesting in the streets and making their views known. The internet is not filtered here, um, no more so than any other western government. And I believe that the uh Hong Kong government is actually independent* in relation to alot of other leading Western governments."

*Hong Kong is an SAR or Special Administrative Region, one of two SARs, and is mostly self governing with the exception of defence of Hong Kong which is the responsibility of the PLA.
Joseph, your observation about right-wing wackos jumping to the conclusion that Obama was behind any Muslim attack goes a long way to explain why he has been so pliable for the intel sector.

One of your commenteers earlier asserted that he dare not risk assassination because that would set off a race war. Similarly I guess he dared not risk a successful terrorist attack because that would set off another Middle East war. Add to that the fact that he dare not prosecute (or even investigate) Bush's crimes because he would then be perceived as an Uppity and Angry Negro, and you've got the recipe for the do-nothing Wuss--the Bro-in-Chief who can be trusted to do nothing more than flap his lips and not even do much of that.
Joseph have you given any thought as to how this program might have already been used by say a rogue contractor for political purposes. wiener scandal, spitzers scandal, etc
I wouldn't be surprised if Snowden is keeping a few juicy secrets up his sleeve--the kind China's military might want to know--to use as a bargaining chip in case it looks like the US govt. might manage to pry him out of Hong Kong.

If I am correct, he could offer to swap those secrets for asylum, as China is one of the few countries that can tell Uncle Sam to go fornicate with cacti.
If the "men behind the curtain" REALLY decided the Chief Executive had to be removed from the Oval Office pronto, (as was the final go-ahead consensus during the infamous Nov. 21 '63 confab at the Murchison Mansion) there are plenty of ways BHO could be "disabled" that wouldn't set the ghettoes aflame, ala the '68 King Kill. The Prez knows this just as well as the Big Boys do.

So I don't think he "walks the line" out of compassionate fear that America's Inner Cities will blaze anew. He also knows full well that Uncle Benny's Terror War ("...How the West Can Win") was a fraud from the get-go. But even trying to wind that shopworn-but-still-profitable scam down a notch or two, in favor of the other evil-elite factions to whom Barry also owes some deep debt, is proving pretty (leakety-leak) difficult for the "dark sock puppet" at present.
Why do so many people keep using "anonymous" as an ID? If we have learned anything in the last few days it is that there is no such thing as anonymity any more. Might as well use your real name. Your friends at google, yahoo, microsoft, facebook, etc are seeing to it that everything about you is government-controlled information. And no, you're not anonymous.

Can we bring back King George III now? That was a better deal. Now that the American experiment with a constitutional republic has been destroyed, it's time for a re-set.
Ernest, elsewhere under my real name I humiliate and annoy reality-challenged internet liars who like to pretend that they are logical, scholarly, and paragons of common sense.

When I do so they often get frustrated enough that they scour the internet for the lies that other reality-challenged internet liars have lied about me.

For that reason, when I have the option to post anonymously (and it's rare) I use it--to frustrate libelers who freely mischaracterize the record knowing that few who read their libels will bother to check them.

Look dumbass anonymous...there is an option to use a nym,,,you think my name is prowlerzee? Joseph, you know, the proprietor here, has repeatedly requested people do so in that we may have cohesive exchanges. You can both frustrate your imaginary furies and also have a civil discussion here that can be followed by persona. Make up a name, like Dimwit, or Ithinkimlogical, instead of mindlessly hitting anonymous like all the other unimaginative anonymousi. You're very welcome, don't mention it, Mr.GeeIneverthoughtof that. :)
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