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Monday, August 19, 2013

Intimidation, surveillance and "CTS"

Glenn Greenwald's live-in (we're supposed to use the word "partner," even though that word conjures up images of law firms and movies about mismatched cops) was stopped, questioned and harassed at Heathrow airport, for no good reason. The ordeal lasted more than nine hours.
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
As you know, strained rationalization is my favorite form of humor. That's why I'd like to hear the Brits explain why they considered Miranda a terrorist.

The "no fly" list seems to exist mostly for the purposes of political intimidation. As you may recall, during the Bush years, Anwar al-Awlaki was allowed to zoom in and out of the country even though, at the same time, any left-wing professor who had denounced the Iraq war could expect to find himself detained.

As Digby notes, right-wing pundits are very quick to denounce Chinese and Iranian authorities who have detained journalists and friends of journalists under exactly similar circumstances. The thing I find most appalling about right-wingers is their lack of absolute standards. Even though they often denounce the concept of situational ethics, they love to put the idea into practice.

Consider, for example, the vile Janet Shan at the mis-named "Moderate Voice." She applauds the use of Stalin-esque intimidation tactics against anyone she doesn't like:
What did Greenwald think would happen? That he and his lover could run around the world and not be subjected to scrutiny in light of the security leaks?
Yes, Janet. That's the point. Greenwald and his lover have exactly that right. Everyone has a right to expect not to be detained as a "terrorist" when there is no evidence to that effect.

Here's a detail you won't find in many articles about this incident:
“David is smart and strong,” Greenwald told Firedoglake. “But still, it was scary: Guardian lawyers were speculating all day that given how much time he was held – which is very rare – he’d possibly be arrested under a terrorism statute.”

“It’s speculation, but I think the only reason that didn’t happen was because Brazilian government at high levels intervened so aggressively and angrily,” Greenwald added.

The story of his partner being held in detention has become the biggest story in Brazil, according to Greenwald.
Well, I don't see the story on the front page of the English-language Rio Times, but Correio Braziliense is indeed giving the incident big play.

Incidentally, the same newspaper also carries a story originating in the German Bild about an alleged Al Qaeda plan to derail high-speed trains in Europe. Here's a translation of the key sentence:
The source of information is the National Security Agency (NSA, its acronym in English), U.S., who intercepted a phone conversation between members of the command of Al-Qaeda, a few weeks ago.
Once again, we see an example of Chatty Terrorist Syndrome. Very odd. In the past -- even before 9/11 -- many news accounts established that actual members of Al Qaeda are fully cognizant of the fact that Uncle overhears their phone conversations. That's why the Al Qaeda plotters referred to the World Trade Center attack as a "big wedding."

In a striking coincidence, Chatty Terrorist Syndrome (CTS) set in only after the Snowden revelations put heat on the NSA. Way I see it, only two scenarios can explain this sudden upsurge in cases of CTS:

Possibility 1: Terrorists are just screwing with the NSA.

Possibility 2. The NSA is screwing us.

The second possibility brings us to Juan Cole, whom I've not quoted (or read) in ages. But his latest (which references the harassment of Greenwald via his partner) is surprisingly hard-hitting:
How to turn a democracy into a STASI authoritarian state in 10 easy steps:

1. Misuse the concept of a Top Secret government document (say, the date of D-Day) and extend classification to trillions of mundane documents a year.

2. Classify all government crimes and violations of the Constitution as secret

3. Create a class of 4.5 million privileged individuals, many of them corporate employees, with access to classified documents but allege it is illegal for public to see leaked classified documents

4. Spy on the public in violation of the Constitution

5. Classify environmental activists as terrorists while allowing Big Coal and Big Oil to pollute and destroy the planet

6. Share info gained from NSA spying on public with DEA, FBI, local law enforcement to protect pharmaceuticals & liquor industry from competition from pot, or to protect polluters from activists

7. Falsify to judges and defense attorneys how allegedly incriminating info was discovered

8. Lie and deny to Congress you are spying on the public.

9. Criminalize the revelation of government crimes and spying as Espionage

10. Further criminalize whistleblowing as “Terrorism”, have compradors arrest innocent people, detain them, and confiscate personal effects with no cause or warrant (i.e. David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald)

Presto, what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens and actively helping destroy the planet while forestalling climate activism.
Take special note of that "2000 corporations" comment. Despite what we've heard from libertarian fools like Julian Assange and Jeff Bezos, the surveillance state exists to serve the corporate state. That's why the presidents who talked the libertarian talk before attaining office -- Reagan, Dubya -- presided over a national security apparat which became ever more Orwellian.

Added note: For some reason, Wikileaks chose this moment to release 46 gigs (!!!) of "insurance files." That's a huge number. I'd be downloading the torrent right now, but for one problem: I don't have enough disc space on my C drive!
Joseph, the US government shut down the Occupy movement nationally in November 2011 in what was a highly coordinated exercise. It was conducted so smoothly and with such little reaction from the media that the significance escaped the public's attention. In summary, the government decided to terminate civil protests nationwide under the false pretenses of safety, hygeine and a general law and order meme. There was no threat to public safety in these protests yet shut down they were, firmly and effectively. That's not just a police state but a remarkably coordinated and effective one if they can operate in plain sight and get away with it.

People need to understand that we are there: an effective police state built for domestic population control and working hand in glove with, and for the benefit of, leading US corporations. The Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) is made up of US military and intelligence agencies, the FBI, Homeland Security and major US corporations. I believe the country is being run by and for corporate entities.
It's the panopticon.

I think you're an order of magnitude out on the size of the wikidump. Just torrent C is well over three hundred gigs. I won't bother downloading it, though. After all, if anything happens to wikileaks there won't be anyway to decrypt it.
As far as CTS, I choose curtain #2: We're being screwed with.

I read about Greenwald's partner being detained. Read about it online, btw. Absolutely outrageous. Do these entities care? Hell no. Intimidation is the program and we're all prime candidates, those of us not spouting the party line. There are few Reps in DC willing to question what's going on. I heard McCain yesterday boo-hooing that the younger generation viewed Snowden as a Jason Bourne. What??? Snowden's a computer geek who gave up a cushy life to be a whistleblower. He's hardly a Bourne character.

Why Snowden, why Snowden? McCain wailed.

Why? Because no one in DC [beyond Wyden, Udall, Sanders and Grayson] have been willing to ring the bell. And their hands are tied because of secrecy restrictions.

The people screaming Free-e-e-edom the loudest are apparently deaf, dumb and blind to the corporate takeover of the country.

That's why Snowden. That's why Greenwald and Poitras. John McCain needs to sit down. And then open his eyes and ears.

Not to worry: "Scotland Yard, which has not revealed on what grounds he was detained, said in a statement on Monday night that the 'examination' of Mr Miranda was 'subject to a detailed decision-making process'." (Does that actually mean anything?)

Moreover, "'The procedure was reviewed throughout to ensure the examination was both necessary and proportionate,' it added." (So that's OK then, so long as the review process itself was subject to continuous assessment as to environmental impact.)

For those who don't know already, Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 gives police etc. at British ports the right to detain people for up to 9 hours without having reasonable grounds - or any grounds - for suspecting anything whatsoever.

This is way beyond a 'sus' law.
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