Friday, August 02, 2013

Spooky times

Too bad I have to dash off and do some errands today, because much is happening. Quickly:

1. A terror threat linked to Al Qaeda has shut down embassies around the Middle East.
A terror threat prompted the State Department on Thursday to direct its embassies in key Middle East nations, including Egypt and Israel, to close on Sunday with the possibility they could remain idle longer.

A U.S. official not authorized to speak publicly on the matter called the threat "credible and serious."

It was "directed at American targets overseas," but may not be confined to main diplomatic facilities, the official said.
I'm not sure how much a threat Al Qaeda actually poses these days. There are those who will tell you that Al Qaeda is no longer, like, a thing, or at least not a large thing, not as large as it once was. At any rate, this Wag-the-Doggish business certainly seems awfully well-timed, coming as it does on the heels of the Snowden affair.

Speaking of which...

2. Michael Hayden, former DCI, has expressed a "hang 'em high" attitude toward Snowden.
Mr. Hayden said he does not endorse some forms of exemplary punishment, “what the French call ‘for the encouragement of others.’”

But if hackers “have this attachment to transparency, perhaps the intelligence community is not where they should be,” he said, adding that the government needs to use the Snowden case to show that it is “serious.”

The former director of both the NSA and CIA said it is “very appropriate” for the U.S. government to pursue Mr. Snowden relentlessly and make his fate an issue in its bilateral relations with any nation that harbors him.
In other words, Hayden DOES endorse exemplary punishment. He reminds me of the 1920s Klan member who said "I don't endorse lynching, but..."

By the way, the above link takes you to a Moonie Times piece. Guess I should have warned you about that. The article opens with a truly delicious bit:
When retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden headed the CIA, one question vexed him so much that he set up a special working group of his private-sector advisory board to help him answer it: “Will America be able to conduct espionage in the future, inside a political culture that every day demands more and more transparency in every facet of national life?”

Mr. Hayden said the working group, headed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, “came back with the answer, more or less: ‘We’re not sure.’”
Yeah. As if that's the problem with today's U.S.: Too much transparency.

Good old Mikey. He always did know how to make me laugh. In the real world, of course, our spook infrastructure is about as transparent as concrete.

By the way -- wasn't Mikey the one who called in Booz-Hamilton to do work for the NSA...?

So let's put item one and item two together into one cohesive narrative. The Spookland chieftains are attending a hackers' conference in Vegas, where they hope to do some recruiting. Of course, the hackers are asking those chieftains to justify Spookland's Orwellian ways, because anyone who has looked deeply into the matter (as have most of those hackers in Vegas) can tell you that the NSA's cyber-totalitarianism hasn't even foiled any actual terror plots.

And so now, today, on cue, we have some really scary news headlines about...

I don't really need to finish that thought, do I?
Yet another reason to detest Carly Fiorina...
Glad I'm not the only one who thought the morning's security alert was 'convenient' in timing. Which is what happens when government agencies and mouthpieces lie or feel truthiness is all the American public deserves. The word 'transparency' has become an absolute joke--secret programs, secret laws, secret courts.

That's not to say there aren't dangers out there or ideological-driven people itching to do us harm. But when the citizenry isn't sure what or who is the biggest threat--the bomb-throwing jihadi or the government claiming to protect you--we've got a problem.

I love the other story this morning--a woman on Long Island [I think that's where it was] who was visited at home by a Homeland Security team. She was searching online for a pressure cooker and her husband was searching for a backpack. Put the two together and viola, a plot in the making. A followup indicated that the searches were not reported by Google but by the couple's employer. Still, this knee-jerk reaction is off the wall. You'd think investigators would do some background checking before visiting someone's home like a goon squad.

But the best item was a SWAT-like team in Wisconsin that entered an animal shelter after secretly surveilling the premises. The shelter was harboring a baby deer named Giggles [against state regulations]. The team rushed in, scared everyone and summarily executed the fawn. They carried the carcass out in a body bag.

I feel safer already.

Interesting times!

Don't forget that US embassies around the world contain servers which run X-Keyscore for the NSA.

If any important US embassies, such as in Cairo or Tel Aviv, really 'shut down' on Sunday, even for a day or a few days, then this has got to be relevant. But 'shut down' might just mean they're not open to callers.

Maybe they don't want any demonstrators outside, saying "Stop spying on our computer and phone use from your embassy!"; or, if they do meet such criticism in the Arab press or on the Arab street, they hope they will be in a better position to paint such a call, in the minds of the sheeple of the west, as 'al-Qaedist'?
I've said this before in comments on your blog:


and the 2012 Wired article it references.

People, especially Congress critters, aren't getting this basic and essential point. It's either too unbelievable to comprehend, or the critters are part of the conspiracy.

If you'd just accept this premise for the hell of it, and then THINK THROUGH what it means...
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