Edward Snowden Makes Himself an Even Bigger Problem to the Officialdom

Former CIA employee, most recently Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden was already the intel community’s biggest nightmare, and now this:

You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter. He’s on the nerdy side of attractive, sensible-sounding and relaxed, articulate, and able to deliver key points in a compact, mass market friendly manner. Sadly, who carriers the message matters a great deal to Americans, and Snowden has revealed himself to be credible and likeable. In other words, as Foreign Policy noted a couple of days ago, the PR battle is on, and Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian team have played this very well. The releasing of key pieces over a series of days has kept the story on a full boil, and having Snowden agree to the taping and releasing it towards the end was astute, witness:

Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 4.41.00 AM

But putting the effectiveness of the strategy of the packaging of the story aside, the message in the video is even more disturbing than the program overviews released so far. If nothing else, listen to the section starting at 3:16 to 3:40, where he described the untrammeled access analysts have to information. Your information.

And we’re already seeing serious fracturing on political lines. Some vocal members of the right are alarmed about the reach of the surveillance state. Glenn Beck and Rod Dreher of the American Conservative have come out supporting Snowden by name. Rand Paul, Neil Cavuto,
Peggy Noonan, Jim Sensenbrenner,Heather Ginsberg and Ed Morrissey have all criticized the programs discussed in the Snowden revelations.

Andrew Dittmer sent these comments from the very conservative site TheBlaze, picking the most recent ones expressing a clear point of view on Snowden:

“Regardless this guy is an American hero. Thank God for his courage and integrity.”

“Just finished listening to the video and analyzing his body language;this guy is a good guy and nothing like that POS Bradley Manning. Manning should spend life in prison or be shot and this guy needs an Independent seat in the Senate and head an Intelligence Committee.”

“I’m glad that this information is exposed, but I don’t believe this “whistleblower” had purely honorable intentions. He could have given this information to Constitution friendly politicians, NY Times, Fox News, but he chose to give it to a well known anti-American journalist that works for a foreign news organization.”

“I find it interesting that you think Glenn Greenwald is anti-American because he recently went to work for a british newspaper (bigger money offer, American capitalism and such) and that he is willing to speak out against the gubment. Is that not an American ideal – to speak out against the gubment when you think it is wrong?”

“The difference is simple, Manning was trying to hurt America, this guy is
trying to save her.”

“As for me, this dude is a freedom fighter for humanity and against tyranny.”

“not very bright for an ex-spook. Guess he doesn’t read the news, Obamy is out for leaker blood.”

“One day when we elect an American again as president I hope we can put this man on a Quarter as an anniversery coin.”

“The govt program is illegal, so I’d like to think he’s a good guy. I’m concerned he could be seeking publicity, but I hope he’s a true believer in freedom & liberty, though I see globalism in his word choices, which sets off my alert signals.”

“Watched the video. Can’t say the young man is a patriot and hero, nor can I say that he is a wacked liberal. More needs to be seen and revealed. The man definitely has humility and is not arrogant, but very bright. Some would say that he is not very bright doing what heis doing.”

As Chris Engel pointed out yesterday, a number of sites, particularly tech oriented sites, have tried attacking Greenwald’s work for inaccuracy. Ed Harrison has been keeping tabs on the reporting (see here and here) and describes it as falling into two camps, the first being techies who take issue with the use of terminology. This is similar to the sort of finance pedantry which was routine during and after the crisis. While getting the fine points right matters, too often the critics are simply trying to confine the discussion to experts, who also happen overwhelmingly to be pro status quo. The second is more obvious: journalists who are affiliated with the technology industry (and may not be experts but translate for them regularly) and will defend their meal tickets (the tech industry gets huge amounts of funding from the defense and intel communities).

The other element that Ed highlighted by e-mail is that this shows the dangers of outsourcing government functions. Here are some sections of a blistering, must-read 2007 Salon article by Tim Shorrock on Booz (hat tip Richard Smith):

With revenues of $3.7 billion in 2005, Booz Allen is one of the nation’s biggest defense and intelligence contractors. Under [J.Michael] McConnell’s watch, Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme. As a key contractor and advisor to the NSA, Booz Allen is almost certainly participating in the agency’s warrantless surveillance of the telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens…

U.S. intelligence budgets are classified, as are nearly all intelligence contracts. But the overall budget is generally understood to be running about $45 billion a year. Based on interviews I’ve done for an upcoming book, I estimate that about 50 percent of this spending goes directly to private companies. This is big business: The accumulated spending on intelligence since 2002 is much higher than the total of $33 billion the Bush administration paid to Bechtel, Halliburton and other large corporations for reconstruction projects in Iraq…

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Booz Allen was hired by the CIA to audit the agency’s monitoring of trillions of dollars in international financial transactions moving through a European cooperative called SWIFT….

The ACLU and Privacy International, an organization that monitors government intrusion, jointly issued a scathing report on the issue last September. “Though Booz Allen’s role is to verify that the access to the SWIFT data is not abused, its relationship with the US government calls its objectivity significantly into question,” the two organizations said….

Booz Allen served as the NSA’s chief advisor on one of its most significant outsourcing projects. Called Groundbreaker, this huge project was launched shortly before the 9/11 attacks to overhaul the NSA’s internal I.T. systems. Booz Allen’s work on this project was outlined in a Booz Allen magazine piece on “Government Clients.” Working with the NSA, the article states, Booz Allen “helped create a new model of managed competition that outsourced key pieces of the agency’s IT infrastructure services.” Its work on Groundbreaker “included source selection support and evaluating vendor proposals.”

Last year, however, the Baltimore Sun investigated the project and concluded it was a failure. Over the course of the project, Groundbreaker’s $2 billion price tag had doubled, and the problems with the system, according to insiders who spoke to the Sun, were legion. “Some analysts and managers have said their productivity is half of what it used to be because the new system requires them to perform many more steps to accomplish what a few keystrokes used to,” the paper reported. Another NSA program that Booz Allen was involved in, Trailblazer, which was designed to overhaul the NSA’s signals intelligence system, is widely considered an even worse failure.

Oh, and guess who the majority owner of Booz is? Carlyle Group, the long-time DC heavyweight private equity firm with deep connections to the Bush family. We can see how clever it is proving to be to have outsourced big chunks of the defense, security, and intelligence apparatus to mercenaries, even worse, ones with really high return targets (the traditional public service model led to screening for true believers. By contrast, Snowden touches on his discomfort with his well-paid lifestyle and his power).

And even though a lot of the tech community benefits directly from military-industrial complex largesse, there’s also a good deal of soul searching and consternation in some quarters of that world as well.

We finally may have seen the abuse where Obama’s default strategy, that any problem can be solved by better PR, has met its match. The fact that Greenwald and the Guardian have played this story well and gotten it the airing it deserves is very important. But it’s also that Snowden has been able to provide concrete examples that put the spotlight on the scope and lack of real checks on a massive police state apparatus. And it isn’t just Americans that are alarmed. It’s going to be very hard for the officialdom to minimize or explain away this information, and we should all be very grateful for that.

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  1. Chris Engel

    There’s been a lot of support for Snowden on Twitter, but it’s contrasted by a significant bi-partisan minority spewing the meme of “Let the government surveil me! If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ll let them too!”

    This sentiment really scares me. And I’m not a fan of throwing around words like “unpatriotic” and “unamerican” — but to take the attitude of giving the powerful federal government the benefit of the doubt in collecting our data to protect us, and saying “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you wont care”, it smacks of a truly ignorant mentality that contrasts with the anti-authoritarian ideals and codified principles that our founding fathers put in place.

    Then again, this is a similar line of reasoning gun-control advocates have used and liberals have mocked as “paranoia”. What would be the equivalent for the 4th Amendment of banning assault weapons? Perhaps Democrats will argue that “metadata” collection is to the 4th amendment as assault weapon bans are to the 2nd amendment — sensible limitations (this is not my opinion, but the argument has been made and I find it difficult to differentiate personally).

    Also, and I think this was linked before, but there’s an NSA memo post-9/11 that suggested we “rethink the 4th Amendment”, so that gives you an understanding of where the NSA is coming from in regards to their activities: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/nsa-memo-4th-amendment-92416.html

    And then there’s this asshole:

    @mmhastings @michaelhayes umm, sounds like a pretty unscientific twitter study to me. The guy should be tried for what he is: a traitor— Sloan Eddleston (@eddlest) June 10, 2013

    So this is from the COO of The New Republic, who is saying that Snowden is a “traitor” and should be arrested and tried as such.

    I like some of the writers at TNR, but if their COO is taking this kind of position, it really makes me wonder about the general direction and “personality” of the entire TNR magazine.

      1. Chris Engel

        That’s an excellent video (I recall watching it when it went viral some time ago).

        A cursory browsing of _conservative_ (non-establishment GOP) media (Drudge as an example) shows some backing of Snowden against federal government overreach.

        And the “real” Left also supports him.

        But there’s a strange middle area that seems to have no partisan determination, where people are willing to attack Snowden and Greenwald either because they are personally scared of terrorist attacks and support government surveillance no matter what, or because they want to defend Obama or the Deep State at any cost. I’m not sure what kind of revelations it would take to get these pro-surveillance types to realize that this is not something to be shrugged off — but Greenwald has been pretty open about saying there’s a lot more to this than some Powerpoint slides.

        I wish Snowden the best — if anything happens, it stands to reason that it’s going to happen today. My questions are:

        1) What further revalations are there to come in the way of concrete evidence? (and will that serve as leverage against any authorities’ actions against him?)

        2) What is the play by the Obama admin/DoJ? Snowden says he’s not hiding, so they will have to arrest him either directly or through the PRC authorities. It doesn’t seem possible that they’ll just let this slide, but the NSA must know now that they have to come clean about the facts or they may be embarrassed by hard evidence that shows whatever cover-stories they provide to be outright lies.

        Snowden is facing torture, plain and simple. Look at what Manning has gone through, and the human rights abuses and outright war crimes the deep state has committed against others (including simply murdering American citizens abroad). Nobody is safe anymore.

          1. ifriit

            I’ve seen it claimed that Greenwald is planning to continue this series of leaks for some time still. We could have weeks of daily articles.

        1. optimader

          Yes, that remains one of if not the most powerful vids on you tube.

          But there’s a strange middle area that seems to have no partisan determination… or because they want to defend Obama or the Deep State at any cost.


          There exists a fat slice in the middle of America that has been anesthetized with the cultivation of their version of “convenience living”.

          Freedom is an abstraction waaay up the Mazlow Pyramid, whereas the hard feedback loop between “security” and “physiological needs” (eye twitch on needs vs wants) has been very successfully sold through the organs of “media”
          “it’s for the children….it’s for your security… for your safety the city is in lockdown, stay home and watch the game ’til further notice”…”they hate us for our freedom!”…hiccup

      2. nonclassical

        ..and then there’s this-proof more than 50% of U.S. intelligence has been PRIVATIZED…to whose profit$ is it when their “business” creates intel such as “RENDON GROUP” (Iraq War propagandists) did??


        (AMY GOODMAN: “So, what about the privatization of top-secret information or the people around the country who have access to top-secret information, especially when they’re working in a private corporation?”

        WILLIAM ARKIN: “You know, one thing that we found in the evidence, Amy, is that people who are in business are in business. I’m not going to say that they’re not good Americans, any less than we are, but it seems to me that their fundamental mission is to make money for their businesses. And that is not the same as being a public servant. And as you can see from our articles, we have quotes from all of the principals involved, on the record—Secretary Gates; Leon Panetta, the CIA director; the Director of Defense Intelligence and the former Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair—essentially agreeing with us that this crazy, out-of-control system accreted after 9/11, and here, two years into the Obama administration, it is essentially in the same form that it was when the Bush administration left office. But there is something fundamentally wrong in America if you have people who are working in a for-profit environment caring for our national security and engaged in what we consider to be the inherent functions of government.”

        Here’s John Rendon of Iraq propaganda-“intel”:

        “To coordinate the operation, Rendon opened an office in London. Once the Gulf War began, he remained extremely busy trying to prevent the American press from reporting on the dark side of the Kuwaiti government, an autocratic oil-tocracy ruled by a family of wealthy sheiks. When newspapers began reporting that many Kuwaitis were actually living it up in nightclubs in Cairo as Americans were dying in the Kuwaiti sand, the Rendon Group quickly counterattacked. Almost instantly, a wave of articles began appearing telling the story of grateful Kuwaitis mailing 20,000 personally signed valentines to American troops on the front lines, all arranged by Rendon.

        Rendon also set up an elaborate television and radio network, and developed programming that was beamed into Kuwait from Taif, Saudi Arabia. “It was important that the Kuwaitis in occupied Kuwait understood that the rest of the world was doing something,” he says. Each night, Rendon’s troops in London produced a script and sent it via microwave to Taif, ensuring that the “news” beamed into Kuwait reflected a sufficiently pro-American line.

        When it comes to staging a war, few things are left to chance. After Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, it was Rendon’s responsibility to make the victory march look like the flag-waving liberation of France after World War II. “Did you ever stop to wonder,” he later remarked, “how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American — and, for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries?” After a pause, he added, “Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs then.”

        Although his work is highly secret, Rendon insists he deals only in “timely, truthful and accurate information.” His job, he says, is to counter false perceptions that the news media perpetuate because they consider it “more important to be first than to be right.” In modern warfare, he believes, the outcome depends largely on the public’s perception of the war — whether it is winnable, whether it is worth the cost. “We are being haunted and stalked by the difference between perception and reality,” he says. “Because the lines are divergent, this difference between perception and reality is one of the greatest strategic communications challenges of war.”

        By the time the Gulf War came to a close in 1991, the Rendon Group was firmly established as Washington’s leading salesman for regime change. But Rendon’s new assignment went beyond simply manipulating the media. After the war ended, the Top Secret order signed by President Bush to oust Hussein included a rare “lethal finding” — meaning deadly action could be taken if necessary. Under contract to the CIA, Rendon was charged with helping to create a dissident force with the avowed purpose of violently overthrowing the entire Iraqi government. It is an undertaking that Rendon still considers too classified to discuss. “That’s where we’re wandering into places I’m not going to talk about,” he says. “If you take an oath, it should mean something.”

        Thomas Twetten, the CIA’s former deputy of operations, credits Rendon with virtually creating the INC. “The INC was clueless,” he once observed. “They needed a lot of help and didn’t know where to start. That is why Rendon was brought in.” Acting as the group’s senior adviser and aided by truckloads of CIA dollars, Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress. Then, as in Panama, his assignment was to help oust a brutal dictator and replace him with someone chosen by the CIA. “The reason they got the contract was because of what they had done in Panama — so they were known,” recalls Whitley Bruner, former chief of the CIA’s station in Baghdad. This time the target was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the agency’s successor of choice was Ahmad Chalabi, a crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington’s neoconservatives.

        The key element of Rendon’s INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a “management fee” of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War.

        The Bush administration took everything Rendon had to offer. Between 2000 and 2004, Pentagon documents show, the Rendon Group received at least thirty-five contracts with the Defense Department, worth a total of $50 million to $100 million.”

        Here’s Rendon’s actual words-threat:

        Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to “take control of the story,” shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day’s events.

        “We lost control of the context,” Rendon warned. “That has to be fixed for the next war.”


    1. DanP66

      I’m currently working on a security project for the Feds and my sub is Booze.

      Conversations this morning are interesting.

      It is funny how many of us have been questioning the use of big data by government and corporations.

      We spend our lives in this stuff and our friends are in this stuff. The people we see at school functions, cub scouts or on the VRE every day work in this stuff.

      The concensus this morning seems to be that in general this guy did what we all knew needed to be done even if we do not all agree about how it was done. Then, none of us seem to have any idea how else he could have done it.

      Anyone still want to have universal gun background checks and a gun registry?

      1. from Mexico

        DanP66 said:

        Anyone still want to have universal gun background checks and a gun registry?

        But hasn’t the debate over whether there is to be gun background checks and a gun registry been a public debate? This is visible government.

        The decision to create a massive surveilance state, on the other hand, has all been done in complete and total secrecy. This is invisible governemnt.

        The most important point Greenwald is trying to drive home — that there needs to be a free and open public debate on whether to create the security state — seems to be lost on you.

        1. optimader

          But hasn’t the debate over whether there is to be gun background checks and a gun registry been a public debate? This is visible government.

          Yes the argument is a fallacy of false equivalence…

          The decision to create a massive surveilance state, on the other hand, has all been done in complete and total secrecy. This is invisible government.

          yes, BHO’s feeble CYA was that members of Congress were informed. As a whole we know what a critical thinking, sophisticated and inquisitive group they are! BHO did not go too deep into what trivial description fulfilled the minimum requirement of informed. How was it cloaked in the untouchable context of counter-terrorism?

          Then he has the balls to imply “we” need to have a national discussion( did he say “conversation?)

          Maybe we needed to have that when the rock was flipped over on Poindexter’s spawn Total Information Awareness and it was floated downriver further and rebranded?

          1. optimader

            .. the BHO rhetoric generator said:
            “You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

            missing excerpt:
            But part of my solemn oath (in the meeting after inauguration) was do everything in my power to ensure “you” do not know who “we” are.
            File under: Damn contractors

        2. DanP66

          I think you miss my point.

          The fact is that the government has no idea what guns I own. I bought them all through private sales with no background check and I paid cash. Virginia does not require that I have either a permit or that I register them.

          You people that believe for a moment that you live in anything like a democracy are kidding yourselves.

          I watch every day how your government is owned by lobbyists and special corporate interests and I mean from the White House right on down through the judiciary and you local planning board.

          How do I know? I sit in meetings where decisions are made. I write the opinion and option papers that help set policy. My friends and neighbors do the same. Some on the Hill. Some at the Regulatory agencies. Some at odd but powerful places like the FCC.

          Do you really think that studies have not been done on the possibility of massive social unrest in the face of another crisis? Do you think that the government has not considered how to manage that unrest? Really? After the OWS movement freaked out enough rich and influential people that DHS had to get involved?

          The Feds know they are one financial crisis away from major social unrest that could turn truly violent. Think DHS bought 3,700 MRAPs and a billion rounds of ammo for nothing do you?

          You have no idea the number of non government groups sponsored by corporations, donors etc are out there doing the dirty research and misinformation work the govt does not want to be directly tied to but is happy to have done.

          When those of us that make very nice livings providing services to the govt and spen years working across the different branches, departments and agencies tell you that we are worried about what we are asked to support maybe those of you who don’t should listen.

          I tell you this. A govt should fear it’s people not the other way around. This govt wants you quiet and complacent. It wants you numb. It does not want you looking too closely at what it does or how and it will work hard to make sure you don’t.

          1. Fiver

            Not only are the two cases not the same, nor logically coupled, but the reality is that you, or anyone else with a gun, has precisely the same type of tyrannical, arbitrary power in your hands as must be denied this Government.

            Unlike others on the “left” I don’t disagree that right now the fact that a large number of Americans are armed might not figure into the equation going forward at some point – however, I’d suggest that the failure to respond to insane levels of gun ownership and gun violence many decades ago and addressing crime via intelligent society-building, instead deliberatedly creating a culture of violence both domestically and in foreign policy in order to drive corporate and political power accumulation, is the most profound failure of society at its peak in all of human history – a society that sat atop the world, wealthier than any had previously dreamed, blessed in every way conceivable, with no serious competitor, chose guns and drugs at home and serial genocide abroad.

            Guns won’t help in any event. What needs to happen is for the millions upon millions of people who are educated, pay attention, care about what’s happening, of any age and in any occuption – what we need all of those people to know is that together, they indeed have the power to force change without firing a shot.

            I’d judge in North America alone there are at minimum 40 million of “us”, meaning decent, honest, caring, non-violent informed men and women “left, centre and right” who know our future is gone if the fusion of the US State’s military/security power with US private corporate globalist power is not checked, reversed, and rewound. Of that number, millions will be in positions of responsibility, authority, even power. People in business, in Government at all levels, in universities, in health services, in transit, in airlines, in fire stations, in the military, the churches…everywhere.

            You find a way to pull everyone off the job at once and stay off until Obama is impeached, and everyone in his and Bush’s and Clinton’s Admins that had a hand in the long coup that’s taken place from 9/11 to date is charged, and that’s it. They cannot replace that many capable people or even think of trying. They don’t dare shoot. They don’t dare charge. They don’t dare do anything.

            The other day I saw a goodinterview where the guy was discussing this from the point of view of the death in the US and West of “counter-vailing power”. No political option, no judicial option, no push from media, and no unions.

            Time for a virtual union with real members, real dues, real leaders, real policy options, and real plans for job in-action when the the union votes for it.

            Or whatever better ideas are out there – because if all the crimes against citizens at home and humanity abroad of the past dozen years’ stand, we court planetary catastrophe.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        “Anyone still want to have universal gun background checks and a gun registry?”

        Actually… according to this, they already have a gun registry. They have the data, they just need to mine it.

        BTW, No one in congress has suggested the creation of a gun registry. The debate was on background checks to prevent purchase, not track ownership. The gun registry was something to scare off the idea of background checks.

        1. Propertius

          The Brady II bill (The Handgun Control and Violence Prevention Act of 1994), which died in committee in the 103rd Congress, did indeed mandate licensing and registration of gun owners – so while it’s certainly correct to say that no one is proposing such legislation now, it has certainly been proposed in the past and it’s not unreasonable to think it might be proposed again in the future.

          See: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1425&context=ulj

          (pp. 434 ff).


          And, for the actual text of the bill:

      3. Bobito

        All of the highly competent yous who manage to check your consciences at the door and work for Booz Allen Hamilton, Goldman Sachs, United Whatever, etc. are the core and essence of the problem. You are morally culpable for the evil that is done by the American state, and we need to stop being afraid of saying it. While I say that, you have my sympathy, because the society is set up to tell you that what you are doing is good for you and good for the society, and it’s entirely understandable that you do it.

    2. Dr. Pitchfork

      I know some progs are uncomfortable with using terms like un-patriotic or un-American (for obvious reasons), but there’s nothing inherently wrong with using them, especially when it can be an effective tactic.

      For ex, if some RW blowhard like Mike Rogers or Peter King are calling this guy a “traitor” or whatnot, why not turn the tables? In my view (in all seriousness), guys like Rogers, King, Feinstein, et al., who have no regard for the basic liberties recognized by the founders, are the ones who are un-American, un-patriotic and, indeed, traitorous.

      Why not forcefully use that rhetoric against them. As in, “Hey, Peter King, you don’t like the 4th Amendment and basic civil liberties, well why don’t you resign and move to North Korea, punk.” Or something like that. You get the idea. I think civil libertarians and progressives are FAR too often apologetic and defensive about their principles, rather than assertive. This would be an _excellent_ time to switch gears on that.

      1. rob

        I think you are exactly right.It is high time these a-holes who defend the corrupt,over reaching american corporate/security state/war machine, be called what they are.UN-AMERICAN.They are trans national/supra national. They obviously don’t support the founding documents. And are EXACTLY who the founding fathers warned the “posterity” about.The republicans/neo-conservatives and the democrats/neo-liberals are all un-american. They are more dangerous to america than al-qeada could ever dream of being.
        We need to call them the traitors. They are.They are the fascists/corporatists who are american’s real enemy.They are the rot, that is killing the american dream.they are the gov’t types who do the deeds.They are the corporate types who pay for the deeds to be done, they are the media types who excuse the deeds. And misinform the public, and say no deeds are being done.Or say the deeds are for our own good, rather than the truth in that these deeds are what will be our demise.

      2. Chris Engel

        It just feels slimy to use the same tactics that they dishonestly use against progressives.

        The fact is that politicians are prioritizing security and ignoring privacy and persona liberty. Until we make clear that we don’t want that, and that they need to abide by the constitutional boundaries we have had in place for centuries, they will continue to assume we want it.

        The politicians on both sides see no downside to being hawks on national security, because being a dove is always perceived as weakness, and nobody perceives weakness well. The added bonus is supporting the deep state which is a multi-trillion dollar industry and the biggest damn employer in the entire world with nearly 4 million employees (more than any Chinese or Indian enterprise…). So if youre a politician, what is there to lose?

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Difference of course being the security state creators and enablers *are* traitors in any real sense of the word. They are directly and unambiguously subverting the very heart of the US’s founding principles. It’s a completely false equivalency.

        2. reslez

          You’re assuming facts not in evidence. They don’t care what we want. The question you should ask is why is there no political downside to being perceived as a hawk? Why are doves caricatured as weak? (You could as easily present doves as preferring a “Fortress America” that avoids interference in foreign affairs.) The question is why. The answer is profit.

    3. vachon

      The US going after Mr. Snowden to arrest, deport and try him might be a whole story in itself. I hope the reporters keep close tabs on this. If he is extradited, I he doesn’t get “lost” for 2 years like Mr. Manning did and that the public doesn’t file and foregt him like it has so many others.

  2. grayslady

    I hope you’re right, Yves. Unfortunately, as you read comments in traditional media on this story, you see how many people in this country have an authoritarian mindset. They don’t question whether the laws passed by Congress were bad laws to begin with. For them, it’s just a question of whether someone “broke the law”.

    1. lakewoebegoner

      just as yelp is “contaminated” by faux/payola reviews, I just can’t but wonder if PsyOps was working overtime this weekend on the comment threads of all the major news sites.

      alas, will never know as it’s classified (if it existed).

        1. kimsarah

          What do you think is the ratio is of troll psy-ops comments versus genuine comments?
          My guess is 10:1. For every 10 honest comments from genuine people, there are 100 disingenuous comments from one paid troll.

          1. nonclassical


            the “trolls” to whom you refer exist under multiple screen names, and make rounds throughout the day, of appointed internet venue. If you are careful to note, and aware of “disinformation techniques” (by the numbers), you can usually tell when this occurs. Also, they dominate local media, which due to their own inability over YEARS to lucidly debate, contrast, or discuss specific issues, have now gone to pay for participation, creating profit while insulting
            with LIES…interestingly, they cannot defend even their own assertions…quickly scribing new screen name to cover up posts they wish to ignore…

    2. from Mexico

      When the law collides with one’s conscience, which one should the individual follow? Is the law sacrosanct? Or do injustice and immorality get written into law, so that the law itself becomes unjust and immoral?

      On one side of this argument we find folks like Richard Nixon and Adolf Eichmann. On the other side we find folks like Martin Luther King, as well as the rulings of the Núremberg and other trials where German war criminals were convicted.

      The debate is an old one, and can be traced back about 2500 years to the ancient Greeks.

      A week or so ago, an NC commenter posted a link to a series of videos on Western civilization published by Annenberg Learner in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art:


      What the videos reveal is that before the Greeks, the conflict between one’s moral/spiritual duties and one’s civic duties did not exist because the city of man and the city of God were deemed to be one and the same. For the older Egyptian and the Mesopotamian cultures of the orient, the king was also god, making the king absolute arbiter of both things civil and things moral/spiritual.

      With the Greeks, however, the gods became separated from the civic authorities, and thus it was only a short time before the individual’s responsibilities to ones conscience came in conflict not only with the civil law, but with the gods themselves.

      There are still people who believe the lawmakers are gods, even though there is disagreement over whether their authority derives from God’s Law or Natural Law. Regardless, it logically follows that if one deems the lawmakers to be divine, then the laws they promulgate are sacrosanct and inviolate.

      1. from Mexico


        The deterioration of respect for law and order can be traced directly to the spread of the corrosive doctrine that every citizen possesses an inherent right to decide for himself which laws to obey and when to obey them.

        — RICHARD NIXON, “If mob rule takes hold in the US: a warning from Richard Nixon,” U.S. News and World Report, August 15, 1966

        Nixon was taking dead aim at Martin Luther King, who in his essay, “Love, law, and civil disobedience” explained that the Civil Rights Movement

        says that it is as much a moral obligation to refuse to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as the cooperation with good. So that the student movement is willing to stand up courageously on the idea of civil disobedience. And it is probably misunderstood more than anything else. And it is a difficult aspect, because on the one hand the students would say, and I would say, and all the people who believe in civil rights would say, obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 and at the same time, we would disobey certain laws that exist on the statutes of the South today.

        This brings in the whole question of how can you be logically consistent when you advocate obeying some laws and disobeying other laws. Well, I think one would have to see that the students recognize that there are two types of laws. There are just laws and there are unjust laws. And they would be the first to say obey the just laws, they would be the first to say that men and women have a moral obligation to obey just and right laws. And they would go on to say that we must see that there are unjust laws.

        1. Susan the other

          Surveillance is a good thing, depending on who and what your surveil. So, again, it’s policy. Too bad we can’t surveil the “CIA” to know what the hell their policy is. Let’s surveil the creation of wealth and its distribution; let’s surveil the creation of CO2 and its distribution; poisons, disease, poverty. But let’s not surveil the struggle of the poorest and most wretched of us. That is so unconscionable I think I’m going to kill my dog and drink his honorable blood jusdt to redeem myself. Oh god, I hope I don’t get parvo.

      2. from Mexico

        Hannah Arendt reports Adolf Eichmann, testifying at his trial, of that day on which he attended the Wannsee Conference:

        There was another reason that made the day of this conference unforgettable for Eichmann. Although he had been doing his best right along to help with the Final Solution, he had still harbored some doubts about “such a bloody solution through violence,” and these doubts had now been dispelled. “Here now during this conference, the most prominent people had spoken, the Popes of the Third Reich.” Now he could see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears that not only Hitler, not only Heydrich or the “sphinx” Müller, not just the S.S. or the Party, but the elite of the good old Civil Service were vying and fighting with each other for the honor of taking the lead in these “bloody” matters. “At that moment, I sensed a kind of Pontius Pilate feeling, for I felt free of all guilt.” Who was he to judge? Who was he “to have [his] own thoughts in this matter”? Well, he was neither the first nor the last to be ruined by modesty.

        What followed, as Eichmann recalled it, went more or less smoothly and soon became routine…

        The legal experts drew up the necessary legislation for making the victims stateless, which was important on two counts: it made it impossible for any country to inquire into their fate, and it enabled the state in which they were resident to confiscate their property…

        So Eichmann’s opportunities for feeling like Pontius Pilate were many, and as the months and the years went by, he lost the need to feel anything at all. This was the way things were, this was the new law of the land, based on the Führer’s order: whatever he did he did, as far as he could see, as a law-abiding citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.

        — HANNAH ARENDT, Eichmann in Jerusalem

      3. vp

        150 years ago, the law required you to stop fugitive slaves and return them to their owners.

        70 years the law required you to denounce Jews to the Gestapo.

        50 years ago the law required you to separate blacks from whites.

        One should not break the law lightly, but sometimes it’s better to.

  3. par4

    It doesn’t matter what is revealed because thr Republicrats will be reelected next cycle.

  4. JGordon

    It’s mind boggling to me that we have a completely criminal regime running things that has somehow managed (so far) to get away with its criminal activity with complete impunity, and on the other hand an American public that passively accepts it. Back when I thought that most Americans were generally honest, well-informed and good-intentioned this had me very, very confused. But then I realized something: that in fact Americans are not honest, well-informed and good-intentioned as I had been thinking; what they are is craven beyond belief, proudly ignorant, and indescribably bloodthirsty. After I figured that out America started making sense to me. Depending how the latest (very transparent) set of regime scandals shakes out will determine how much more or less cynical I’ll become I suppose.

    Anyway, what’s most surprising to me is that you’re reading up on what Jim Rickards is saying. Does that mean that you have at least some interest in currency wars? And if so, what do you all think of Rickard’s views on gold? How do currency wars square with various monetary theories, including your favorite one(s)? Personally I believe that using money to make money ought to be a criminal offense punishable by death, as it often was in many relatively long-lived and successful societies of the past. What do you think of that?

    1. JGordon

      Also, whenever I see that guy’s name I keep thinking of Catch 22. Hopefully there’s nothing significant in that.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        There’s a certain amount of truth in your comment about apathy, but there is a possible explanation for some of that apathy.

        People are tired of investing emotional energy on issues and actions where there is no paypack for that investment.

        You write to your congreess-critter and it’s surprising if you even get a form-letter reply.

        You sign a petition. The petition is ignored and you become a permanent member of one more spam list asking for contributions.

        Even an outrageous movie like “Attack on Wall Street” gets little response becauese both sides recognize that gunning bankers down in the streets would have little effect on the system.

    2. Paul W

      Don’t leave out all the other citizens of the West. The one thing we all have in common is intellectual laziness. The simple reason our democracies are going down the toilet is because the majority of the population is apathetic. They aren’t necessarily blood thirsty nor ignorant but they just don’t care enough to worry about matters which are crucial in how our countries are run. They’ve outsourced so much just to be free not to have to trouble themselves about it. Unfortunately given our class of politicians and media, they’ve given their proxy to the worst elements of society.

      1. nonclassical


        I’d say the “reason” we have more and more secrecy is NOT due to public apathy, but given 911 for example, because it is already controlled to such degree, and it WORKS.

        Studying 911 in depth, the only possible conclusion is, THERE HAS BEEN A COVER-UP…(and the American people have been LIED to…AND media is complicit)

        (5 “excuses” for destruction of building 7, Colleen Rowley’s intel, “Able-Danger”,
        Sybil Edmunds, Pentagon cameras, “911 Commission” testimonies controlled-concealed, etc, etc, etc…)

        1. rob

          “There has been a cover-up.”the american people are being lied to…..
          This is the crux of the truth to me.Everything is a “cover-up”.The entirety of our lives is really a “cover-up”.Since 9-11, is a different era;but not one of more secrecy.I think the secrets were kept better in the old days.we don’t even know what they were…totally.we do know that the entirety of the american experience has been a “cover-up” of one thing or another.but at least technology didn’t allow the government to have such abilities to intrude on the lives of ALL THE MASSES/ALL THE TIME
          Now the ability of a gov’t “of the people”, which has totally run amok,is doing what it always has. It has sided with the monied intrests, and all others be dammned…. but usually people can weave themselves in and out of these perversions….but there are no more “new frontiers”, to escape to.Now that same self serving aspect of collective gov’t selling out to monied intrests,effects us all.
          WE ARE ALL NATIVE AMERICANS NOW.Now THAT gov’t of THOSE people ,is here to take what we have.by law.by treaty.by guns.by subversion.
          WE ,just happen to live in the geographical context in which THEY believe THEY OWN.

          FIRST, this discussion into the NSA spying on us all.
          Then,WHY,Do we NEED to spy ON OURSELVES?
          THEN, WHO is spying on “US”….
          Then, WE MUST ASK,”what have they done”

          Then, we get into corporate control,media control,political scandals,that are corporate scandals, that are national scandals….Then we see, THEY are the criminals.THEY are the TERRORISTS.THEY are the ENEMY.

          JUST a for instance:
          IF 9-11 was an inside job, or even an INSIDE /external convergence with an internal cover-up after the fact….And these “wars” for the last decade were contrived based on false evidence, and executed with massive cover-ups/propaganda….Then this ENTIRE century so far has been a CRIME.And as bad as the “control fraud” side of the corporate attack on the citizens of the world,has been( as is covered here every day), It is the small potatoes, to the “high crimes”, that have been under way.But without the financial extraction of the fruits of other peoples labor,and the resources which would otherwise be among “the commons” these “high crimes”, couldn’t be funded.In the current construct.

          1. nonclassical

            ..and should you wish to visit BBC documentation of your thesis, it can be found here:


            “Disc 1. The POWER of NIGHTMARES. Instead of dreams of a better world, today’s politicians only promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening is the threat of an international terror network. The nightmare is an illusion — a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics and international media — a fantasy that restored the power and authority of politicians in a disillusioned age. 3 hrs. Disc 2. The CENTURY of the SELF. The triumph of the self is thought to be the ultimate expression of democracy, of power to the people. Bur are we really in charge? This series reveals the untold and controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in the UK and US. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests? Among the main characters are Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays, who first used psychological techniques in advertising. Curtis quotes a Wall Street banker: “People must be trained to desire, to want new things.” 4 hrs. Disc 3. The Trap explores how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s dysfunctional idea of freedom. The baleful influence of win-lose game theory on economics and international relations, of free market theory on society, over-the-counter drugs, bureaucracies and schools. The rhetoric of freedom used to justify violence and “shock therapy” in Eastern Europe and in Iraq, with horrific consequences. One of the most intelligent films of all time. 3 hrs.”

    3. Crazy Horse

      “Change We Can Believe In”
      Impeach Obama

      There, we’ve eliminated .01% of the 1% problem.

    4. from Mexico

      That’s the quintessential conservative/pessimist argument, as Susan Neiman explains:

      [Morality] is an answer to conservative critics, today as in the past, who believe the mass of humanity is driven by crude desires. Perhaps, they argue, a few great souls act on moral principles. But most of us have nothing more noble in view than bread and circuses. Our appetites for refinements of gluttony and varieties of entertainment remain nearly insatiable, and nothing else really moves us. If our lives revolve around consuming the objects of these simple passions, a benevolent despotism which manages those passions is the best form of government. We care about getting stuff, and distraction from pain; they care about getting it to us. Who could possibly complain?
      This argument was used to defend despotism in the 18th century, and then as now it depended on the premise that people don’t want to be challenged, but happy. If Kant’s thought-experiment works, the consequences are great. As part of the good life we want all kinds of pleasure, but we want something else as well: a sense of our own dignity that allows us to deny pleasure itself if it violates something we hold higher. Of course wanting dignity isn’t the same as having it; many a sweet lazy dream of something grander remains just that. But if most of us can imagine wanting to be Kant’s hero, even for a moment, then a government that appeals to our best instincts can’t be dismissed out of hand. If each of us can imagine a moment in which we want to show our freedom by standing on the side of justice, each of us should work towards a world in which freedom and justice are paramount. The bread and the cirucuses would take care of themselves.


      And here Martin Luther King gives the very opposite argument to yours:

      Another thing in this movement is the idea that there is within human nature an amazing potential for goodness. There is within human nature something that can respond to goodness. I know somebody’s liable to say that this is an unrealistic movement if it goes on believing that all people are good. Well, I didn’t say that. I think the students are realistic enough to believe that there is a strange dichotomy of disturbing dualism within human nature. Many of the great philosophers and thinkers through the ages have seen this. It caused Ovid the Latin poet to say, “I see and approve the better things of live, but the evil things I do.” It caused Saint Augustine to say “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” Plato, centuries ago said that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each warring to go in different directions, so that within our own individual lives we see this conflict and certainly when we come to the collective life of man, we see a strange badness. But in spite of this there is something in human nature that can respond to goodness. So that man is neither innately good nor is he innately bad; he has potentialities for both. So in this sense, Carlyle was right when he said that, “there are depths in man which go down to the lowest hell, and heights which reach the highest heaven, for are not both heaven and hell made out of him, ever-lasting miracle and mystery that he is?” Man has the capacity to be good, man has the capacity to be evil.

      And so the nonviolent resister never lets this idea go, that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness. So that a Jesus of Nazareth or a Mohandas Gandhi, can appeal to human beings and appeal to that element of goodness within them, and a Hitler can appeal to the element of evil within them. But we must never forget that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness, that man is not totally depraved.

      –MARTIN LUTHER KING, “Love, law, and civil disobedience”

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        In Moral Man and Immoral Society Reinhold Niebuhr wrote

        Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, and his inclination to injustice makes it necessary.

        Personally, I think he was overly pessimistic and thus has the formulation backwards. It should be, “Man’s inclination toward justice makes democracy possible; his capacity for injustice makes it necessary.” The capacity is unleashed by the dysfunctions of family and society.

    5. Bobito

      Since it became socially unacceptable to oppress black people the American tendency has been to simply oppress the poorer half of the population.

  5. Chris Engel

    Morning Joe interview with Glenn Greenwald (extended):


    Both Joe and Mika seem to “get it” and it’s not being disregarded in this particular mainstream outlet (MSNBC).

    Another note: Snowden is apparently epileptic ( http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/10/190293209/who-is-edward-snowden-the-nsa-leaker ). If Manning’s treatment after he was captured and held is any indication (http://www.nextnewdeal.net/doctors-without-borders-bradley-manning-and-medical-ethics ) then Snowden is at serious risk.

    1. Malmo

      Mika was doing heavy lifting for the administration/NSA on this morning’s show. She kept intoning that it was legal and that most people support the overreaching surveilance society. Frankly, I found her (and Richard Haass) utterly disgusting.

  6. der

    Seeing the forest: of the many things Snowden revealed and said the fact that too many have access to Obama’s emails and that he (Snowden) could have easily sold what he gave to Greenwald and be a very rich man, albeit one without a country, he didn’t. Which doesn’t say that some other “Booz-Allen” type with top secret clearance hasn’t or is in the process of doing the collecting and selling to our “enemies.” Which raises a question – What’s the point in it all if the only ones not in on it are the ones paying for it? This guy has a really good 250 words or less answer: http://www.eschatonblog.com/2013/06/apparently-some-stuff-happened-this.html

    1. lakewoebegoner

      “he (Snowden) could have easily sold what he gave to Greenwald and be a very rich man, ”

      ah yes. selling secrets to that big money Guardian, that’s the road to riches! just like Big Bicycle controls the world.

      Guy would’ve gotten more money from TMZ selling a Hillary self-shot.

    2. danb

      The subtext I heard in Snowden’s interview with Greenwald came out when he related this option to sell secrets to the Russians. Snowden also outlined the damage he could have done to US intelligence by exposing spy and intelligence operations across the world. My guess is this may be his –and Greenwald’s- attempt at saving his life, a leverage tactic I fully support. Another interesting point is that a CNN reporter covering this story spoke -Sunday afternoon- of how utterly normal Snowden seems. She said this in a complimentary way, noting, portentously, that there are many potential Snowdens out there in the security state because of the massive amounts of data being gathered are available to people with relatively lower levels of security clearance. Evidently hundreds or more of NSA workers have such clearance as had Snowden. She compared him to Dan Ellsberg and said Ellsberg was one of a few with access to the Pentagon Papers.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The sheer unimaginable quantity of data–even that remaining after repeated machine sorting–means that large numbers of individuals must be given pretty comprehensive access or nothing useful can even conceivably be done with it. You can’t have a pile of countless petabytes of data–or even the derived product of that data– and only a few dozen humans with full perms to access it. Nothing would get done. So, the secrecy is always tenuous, always likely under some sort of breach, one principled Snowden out of thousands away from another public airing.

        This can’t work as advertised as counter-terrorism. It just can’t. What are the odds this is just like J. Edgar’s warehoused file cabinets–just a huge mineable collection of dirt to use for blackmail, intimidation and political fixing? Because *that* it might actually be useful for.

  7. John

    Who owns Booz Allen where Snowdon worked?

    “THE CARLYLE GROUP. In July 2008 Booz Allen completed a previously announced separation of its U.S. government and global commercial businesses, and announced the $2.54 sale of a majority stake in its government unit to the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle unit retained the name Booz Allen Hamilton, while the firm’s commercial and international unit, still owned by Booz Allen executives, now operates as Booz & Company. Booz Allen Hamilton earns about $4 billion a year from its government contracts, the firm claims. But company insiders say the actual figure is closer to $5 billion, and that BAH earns at least $1 billion a year from classified contracts.”

    1. Mike G

      Hence the Bushes enthusiasm for contracting out government functions. To contractors they have major investments in. There’s your Republican “free market”.

  8. YankeeFrank

    We need to come up with a good response for the idiotic meme that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. I have to think there already is something written on this, even something very old, that addresses the stupidity and ignorance of this sentiment clearly and directly. Anyone have any ideas?

    1. Chris Engel

      It’s hard to think of good references without resorting to Hitler/Stalin/1984. As references, those are immediate turnoffs and rely on a reductio ad absurdum, which is an ineffective rhetorical device for convincing many people.

      This is one of those areas where artists — film-makers, writers, etc. — need to fill the gap of public understanding and consciousness. Because while in the short-run, especially amidst terrorist attacks, it’s dangerous to sacrifice liberty for security. People need to understand how that kind of world exists, and that we need legal boundaries and have a balance between personal privacy and security by the state.

      So there are wonderful examples in history, and 1984 is a great piece of literature, but it is hard to convey the grave nature of the false security of “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then submit” and the implications on our society. If anyone has any works that attack this meme from different angles please do share! (Because this will be used ad nauseam in the coming debates regarding the surveillance state)

      1. Paul Niemi

        To those who make the argument they have nothing to hide, if you give an agency the authority and equipment to monitor your electronic communications, it is inherently possible that agency could block or shut off your electronic communications. Then where would you be? Poof, vanished. Who will hold the red button that can shut you down?

    2. Screwball

      @YankeeFrank – you asked “We need to come up with a good response for the idiotic meme that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

      Once you get to that point, YOU don’t decide if you have anything to hide – THEY do.

      1. YankeeFrank

        I like that. I also like this from Deb Schulz downthread:

        “There are no innocent citizens in a surveillance state.”

        1. Kokuanani

          I’m old enough to recall when “Communist Russia” was portrayed as the ultimate “surveillance state.” Spy novels always featured the “good guy” spies having their hotel rooms bugged, their phones [those ancient land-line things] tapped, meeting in open parks to have a discussion that couldn’t be overheard [at least until the advent of far-reaching microphones.]

          Perhaps we need to dredge up a few of those old spooky movies and novels, and edit them to insert the US Government as the bad guys.

      2. YankeeFrank

        This is my more long-winded approach:

        Once the government can examine everything (pretty much) about someone’s past, that person is no longer free. If the government wants to, they can doctor up anything about you they want — to prove you are “evil”, or mentally ill, or a liar… and once they can do that to anyone they have total control over us. They can retroactively examine anyone’s life and find whatever “evidence” they want of anything they want to charge you with.

        Why do you think criminal lawyers tell their clients never to speak to the police without their lawyer present? Even if you tell 100% truth and are innocent they can turn your words against you. All they need is a “witness” who saw you somewhere you (or your decades of internet history) claim you weren’t and they have you as a liar, and if you’re lying about that, well then you are very likely guilty. They don’t even have to fabricate the witness. People want to help the police, and they “see” things they didn’t see all the time. This scenario plays out regularly in this and other ways. Hence lawyers tell you to say nothing to the police. These NSA records essentially mean you’ve been talking to the police since 2006, and they can catch you in any number of “lies” to weaken your credibility. People get life sentences for things they didn’t do based on evidence just like this.

        Once you are a suspect, that is the beginning of the end of your freedom. The fact that we are all under threat of becoming suspects based on something we said or wrote 15 years ago, or whenever, because the NSA has all our history, means we are all constantly under threat of suspicion. This is what totalitarianism looks like.

        1. Chris Engel

          Devil’s Advocate: “oh you’re just being melodramatic! there should be exceptions made to the 4th amendment just like there should be limitations to the 2nd amendment! suggesting the NSA surveillance will lead us to Orwellian totalitarianism is as irrational as saying an assault weapons ban will result in tyranny as teabaggers say.”

          I have responded to related counterpoints by pointing out that the difference is that the state has undergone this surveillance in secret and made it unchallengeable. And total surveillance is on the level of a near total gun ban in that analogy and there hasn’t been anything close to that. So our fears are more realistic and immediate than teabaggers insisting an assault weapons ban would be tyrannical (a poor slippery slope argument).

          There’s a fine line between a fallacious slippery slope and a well-crafted reductio ad absurdum to demonstrate the logic of a point. The nuance of the argument is key.

          Any other points that would go well to rebutting that contention that we’re all just being like teabaggers freaking out about tyranny that is a slippery slope?

          1. YankeeFrank

            The NSA surveillance is not an “exception” to the 4th amendment. It completely guts it. It drives a truck through the entire amendment. If the government can collect our private information without suspicion then what can’t they search? The answer is nothing. They can search, and store, everything about us. Its just like banning ALL guns for the freepers out there.

        2. Chris Engel

          Here’s another good retort:

          If you aren’t planning to commit crimes, why should you care if the government installs surveillance cameras in your house?

        3. nonclassical

          “they” can already assemble your personal DNA:



          However, it is necessary to further define who “THEY” are–this is PRIVATE INDUSTRY USING government, whose influence they purchase…

          …priority #1 is ending campaign contribution=influence of “the people’s representative government….

    3. YankeeFrank

      Here’s another good one:

      Agent: “Do you want me to tell your wife about the porn you’ve been watching?”

      Me: “No”

      Agent: “Now we’re getting somewhere”

      1. diptherio

        Conspiracy Theory (for your consideration):

        The federal gov’t has secretly supported the ready availability of porn on the interwebs as a way of having ready-made extortion materials on the entire (male?) population (in conjunction w/ PRISM), should the need ever arise to ‘move’ one of them.

        On a side note, it is interesting to me how much “what porn you watch” has been brought up in these discussions. That argument could be especially cogent down south, from what I hear. hehehe

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      How about:

      -American intelligence agencies had hard data from the Russians on the Boston Bomber
      -American intelligence agencies demonstrated an inability to share information just like 9/11
      -American intelligence agencies are so devoted to spying on the masses they ignored evidence from a foreign power which is allied on the issue of terrorism.
      -Over time most of our intelligence successes have come from people flipping data because they believed the U.S. was a free and fair society. Often this intelligence was among the best. This NSA program undermines this effort and largely collects useless data which will waste government resources checking on every call between old ladies on different continents.
      -American intelligence failures have often been the result of over sized and entrenched bureaucracies with too man isolated interests and insufficient oversight. Secrecy only allows these people to deny their own incompetence and to insulate politicians who have failed in their job to provide the oversight.

      Do you trust these people to know you weren’t the spy who frequented your place of business? There hasn’t been a housecleaning since the Boston bombing. Its the same bozos and same organization clear warning signs both from 9/11 and a myriad of other disasters.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The other issues is identify theft. Remember Edward Snowden is a high school dropout with no college background. Would you trust yahoos from your high school class to have access your bank pin number and secret information under the protection of government secrecy?

        Its not the President spying. He has to watch ESPN and read Andy Sullivan. Its low level peons.

        1. Leviathan

          Did you watch the video? He is a very intelligent, well-spoken person. Not everyone who drops out is a loser. Some of the brightest do so (e,g, the founder of Tumblr, now worth hundreds of millions). He is clearly good at what he does and an autodidact in most other respects.

          If anything, he is the poster child for NOT going to college. Didn’t need it professionally and would only have skewed his moral compass! Quarter of a million dollars saved, as well as his soul.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            It was more of an example. I have seen parts of the interview and agree with you on Snowden*, but the point needs to be made. Obama is not the one doing the spying. Its his underlings. Its a jilted boyfriend. Its a guy suffering from PTSD. Its the idiot son of an ambassador. Its the guy who lost money in a housing scheme and has access to secret data which might reveal information people keep secret to criminal misuse. Like any organization, much of the applicants are self-selected. People who like the idea of secrecy and power behind the throne would seek out these jobs. On the surface, I’m mildly concerned a kid who didn’t finish high school has this access. I doubt he is the only person with this access or knowledge.

            Many of the defenders of this program will say, “Obama isn’t spying on you. He’s so swell and has no reason to spy on you.” This could be true, but its not about Obama except for his support of this program. The people who might use the program to harm people in revenge are a huge source of the problem. Its important to demonstrate to people that this program exists and you don’t know who is running it or has access.

            *I was actually pretty impressed especially considering he at least thinks he is on the run.

      2. nonclassical

        …orrrrr, “I’d like to see the government surveillance videos (5 cameras, +confiscated one at convenience store across the street, if you have nothing to hide”…

        (of course now tech is such it can be made to show anything; even corporate president reading to kindergarteners)..

    5. from Mexico

      Why do Obama and Feinstein insist the government do everything in secret if it’s not doing anything wrong?

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Exactly, Obama has “nothing to fear if he has nothing to hide.”

        As Ron Paul said yesterday, “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around…”

        This is in fact one of the most opaque and underhanded administrations in history. Makes me want to resurrect Nixon, or at least exhume the media of that period.

        1. Mike G

          This is in fact one of the most opaque and underhanded administrations since the last one, who did mass surveillance without even the fig leaf of FISA legal approval. And they were lustily cheered on, while sneering as traitors anyone who objected, by the drooling masses from Ron Paul’s party.

    6. Eureka Springs

      Just turn the meme on its head. The government has too much info.. too much to hide. We the people cannot expect representation by secret paranoid State, who among so many things abrogates the fourth, collects our information and uses it against us at great secret expense. No budget, no operation should be secret. What we have is something most congresscritters are not even allowed to know about, certainly not in any detail. It is government who should not be able to hide at all and people who should expect privacy or evidence and individual court ordered warrant.

      Secret government can and will use these things against you… what we should have is open government openly honoring and protecting citizens privacy.

    7. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      There’s the rhetorical question: “How well do You know Your PRISM-material analyst?”

    8. Bobito

      The scientific response is the empirically verifiable one – where societies have permitted massive governmental intrusion the societies have degenerated in horrible ways. The USSR provides a good example, understandable to the most reflexive defender of the American state.

    9. reslez

      We are private citizens, they are public servants. For democracy to function we need to know what they’re doing. If they want to know what we’re doing, they can damn well get a judge and a warrant. We have natural rights recognized in the Constitution. We are citizens, not serfs.

      Do you have curtains on your windows? Why? You have nothing to hide… right? If we were sitting down to lunch and I put a tape recorder on the table, would you feel a little uncomfortable? Would it change what you were willing to say? What effect do you think that sort of pervasive surveillance will have on our democracy?

      Have an unpopular opinion, and the machine kicks into gear, sifts through its mountain of private date on you… what will it find? You have nothing to hide… right? Nothing that could be twisted the wrong way? You’re going to go through life hoping they don’t turn that magnifying glass on you, and still call this a free society.

  9. Dan Kervick

    Since people are a making a profit from them, I suppose it makes sense to describe Booz Allen contracts as “outsourced”. But I had been under the impression for years that Booz Allen was a known CIA/USG front company. Isn’t BA the company that recruited Perkins as described in his book about economic hit men?

    1. fred

      No, Perkins didn’t work for BAH. BAH is not a so-called proprietary, in that it has always had an independent existence, but it sure gets stuffed with NOCs. So you never really know who you’re talking to. The commercial guys split off cause they didn’t want to get locked up as spooks, and now BAH’s existence depends on staying in Big Brother’s good graces.

      1. Ex-PFC Chuck

        Perkins worked for Charles T. Main Co., ostensibly an architectural engineering company in the power industry.

  10. Deb Schultz

    Wanting to maintain privacy is not the same as wanting to hide. Those people who claim to have nothing to hide are people whose memory is extremely selective. All of us have done, said, or thought things we wish we could retract, undo, erase. Now that there is a record of so much of what we say and write, how can any one of us remember all we’ve written or said? How can we assume the analyst will act without misprision? It’s simply foolish to think that the collection of such data on anyone wouldn’t be able to provide a basis for suspicion. There are no innocent citizens in a surveillance state — that’s the point.

  11. dearieme

    “Some would say that he is not very bright doing what heis doing.”

    But then some can’t resist a circular argument.

  12. Jim Haygood

    ‘Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme.

    ‘U.S. intelligence budgets are classified, as are nearly all intelligence contracts. But the overall budget is generally understood to be running about $45 billion a year.’

    Since PRISM embodies all the capabilities that were planned for TIA, one can conclude that despite ostensibly being halted after public protest, TIA simply morphed into PRISM and carried on undisturbed.

    Lesson: with tens of billions of classified and black funding at its disposal, the administration is unrestrained by Congressional control. Even a public vote to terminate a program cannot kill it. And Congress can’t kill it if it’s classified and they don’t even know it exists.

    Now only a handful of Congressional leaders are verbally briefed on the vast reach of classified programs. As exemplified by the press conference held by Senators Feinstein and Chambliss — chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — to defend Verizon’s wholesale telephone tapping, these privileged members of Congress become co-opted true believers themselves.

    Feinstein and Chambliss’s lower-ranking fellow Intelligence committee members have no more information about the black budget than you or I do. These days, rank-and-file members of Congress are nothing but low-level munchkins, deprived of any sensitive information.

    As Snowden explicitly pointed out, the National Stasi Agency can target anyone — even ‘a federal judge’ — for surveillance. In conjunction with the recent takedown of Petraeus using emails, this explains a lot about the extreme passivity of the legislature and the judiciary. A vast secret spying apparatus very effectively neutralizes purported checks and balances.

    Would revealing the black budget in all its enormity harm the United States? Those who administer it would call it a capital offense. I would call it the only way to restore functioning democracy.

  13. Ned Ludd

    Regarding “direct access”, see this diagram from Wikipedia for a simple example of how things can be setup for the NSA.

    In practice, Google, Facebook, et al. would install something “smarter” than a proxy server: for example, a web server or an app server running custom code. Are the tech companies checking that the NSA stays within the bounds of the FISA court orders? No.

    From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may “task” the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company’s staff. […]

    According to a more precise description contained in a classified NSA inspector general’s report, also obtained by The Post, PRISM allows “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers. The companies cannot see the queries that are sent from the NSA to the systems installed on their premises, according to sources familiar with the PRISM process.

    “The companies cannot see the queries that are sent from the NSA…” The NSA has access to company data with no oversight. This is why Twitter balked – they wanted to see the queries, possibly run the queries themselves. Twitter wanted to ensure that NSA “collection managers” did not go outside the bounds of the FISA court orders. Google, Facebook, and the other tech companies did not care.

  14. Eat after reading

    The most sensitive secret in America is not sources and methods or national technical means. The best-kept secret is that Americans have a binding right to privacy with which all US law must accord. It’s an integral part of federal statute law and federal and state common law. That’s the supreme law of the land and no PATRIOT Act can revoke it. The US Government is breaking this law and people have a legal right to remedy.

    1. diptherio

      Here in Montana, the right to privacy is explicitly protected by our State Constitution. I would imagine the same might be true in other states as well (thankfully, we had a Constitutional convention in the ’70s that was packed with civil-libertarians).

      Constitution of Montana — Article II — DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

      Section 10. Right of privacy. The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.

      1. Crazy Horse

        So, is Montana willing to offer Snowden refuge status, and mobilize the National Guard to protect his freedom and the Montana Constitution when the Feds try to extradite him? Didn’t think so.

        Force is 99% of the law.

        1. cathayter

          Well that’s why he got China to protect his rights for him. 750 nukes and a military industrial base. Let’s see plump turd Clapper exert his overwhelllmming force on that.

      2. 1231239

        ” compelling state interest.”

        that’s the get out of jail free card for everyone ranging from the NSA to the anti-abortion/anti-birth control crowd.

        1. danb

          Correct. Just after the Wall fell and Germany was united an East German told me, “We East Germans had a constitution modeled after the US Constitution. I am saying that we had your privacy and other freedoms in our constitution; but there was always ‘state security’ to allow and justify any action against East German citizens by the government and the Party.”

    2. Bobito

      The US constitution, which is all that matters in practical terms, because no US high court will ever bow to some treaty, is an antiquated document written by men who rode horses to Congress, and nowhere at all establishes any sort of explicit right to privacy. The need for such a protection was quite inconceivable to men who owned large numbers of slaves with whom they had children (e.g. Thomas Jefferson).

      1. Ned Ludd

        If Yves used a personal certificate (instead of a “trusted” certificate), and we installed her certificate in our browsers, then we could securely communicate with nakedcapitalism.com using her certificate. However, users who did not have her personal certificate installed, and who went to https://nakedcapitalism.com, would get a warning like this:

        This Connection is Untrusted

        You have asked Firefox to connect securely to nakedcapitalism.com, but we can’t confirm that your connection is secure.

        Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site’s identity can’t be verified.

        What Should I Do?

        If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn’t continue.

        Get me out of here!

        Using a certificate signed by a “trusted” authority (trusted by the company that distributes the web browser) would allow people to see the site without installing a personal certificate and without ever seeing the above warning. This would only protect against black hats, but it would not stop NSA snooping (although it would be more computationally expensive for them).

        1. Tokai Tuna

          I would hire a management consultant to set up a blog like a honey pot. A warm grandmother feel to the blog, concern for social issues, honesty, free for all criticism, drunken outbursts, bank rage, agitated cut and paste, cross posting – then harvest that data from the no longer idled narcissists who can’t resist. That would be one way to out spook the spooky.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          How would Yves and/or Lambert determine who should and shouldn’t have a key? A so called secure site is a pain in the butt and significantly slower than otherwise. It’s useful in situations when you have a specific list of people to be given certificates. For NC, a public blog, and given all the hassle, what’s the gain?

          You are better off using software that hides your IP address and even then you are not very well off. Up until about seven years ago, we were protected by sheer volume on the one hand and technological limitations on the other. The limitations are now pretty much gone.

        3. Dirk77

          It doesn’t help against man-in-the-middle attacks, so it depends on what power nefarious types have, which I don’t know. If MITM is not a possibility then I’m sure it just slows them down, but by how much? I don’t know that either – but I would like to.

  15. turtle soup

    Gosh girls, let’s start writing letters again and see if they (the big bad they) open the mail. Pen and paper, envelopes and stamps, where are they now. How much do stamps cost these days? NSA/Booz et al remind me of mountain top removal….take it all, wreck the landscape, leave the wreck behind.

  16. Jim Haygood

    The Guardian drops the next shoe, with an essay from Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers:

    In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago.

    Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.


    1. Tokai Tuna

      It’s tragic how the US rushed into Iraq, completely ignoring everything that the Pentagon Papers revealed. No war criminals held to account, nothing has changed, the companies are the same, while they kept assuring the populace that everything had changed, like fear producing parrots. Nixon pissed off the wrong people, even though he did wonderful neo-liberal before it was fashionable. They only had William Calley in jail for what 3 or so years? That incident was typical of human extermination, yet Bradley Manning is being tried for what everyone knows. Fucking insane.

  17. sd

    I keep asking – has this information been used for insider trading? How many analysts would NOT use inside information to game markets?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I wonder if this could be the topic of future leaks. Perhaps analysts were stealing data or running insider trading with no punishments being doled for fear of embarrassment of providing information. Greenwald is quite smart, and if this was the case, Greenwald might have an opportunity to embarrass “it keeps us safe crowd.”

    2. 1231239

      i’ve always wondered this. forgot vacuuming up mullah IM chats.

      the vast majority of big M&A is handled by a literal handful of law firms and i-banks. Using metadata just by itself and tracking where all of Cravath’s/Wachtell’s/Goldman’s phone calls are going over 365 days would yield a fortune’s worth of insider information.

    3. Crazy Horse

      You mean insider trading like the massive puts on airline carriers prior to 911?

      Move along, nothing to see here.

    1. TK421

      I keep hearing about how much Obama cares about following the law, so certainly there will be consequences!!!

      Three exclamations means sarcasm.

  18. diptherio

    I’m so glad to find out that my local water bill now goes to the same folks (Carlyle) who run the company that is no-doubt reading this comment (as I type it?).

    PE=”Pretty Egregious”

  19. TomDor

    “The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison on March 15, 1789. “That of the executive will come in its turn, but it will be at a remote period.”

    “We, the People, are the rightful masters of both the Congress and the Courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who have perverted it.” – Abraham Lincoln

    “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” – Abraham Lincoln

    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be … The People cannot be safe without information. When the press is free, and every man is able to read, all is safe.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

    “A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang.” -Benjamin Franklin

    “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” -Alexis de Tocqueville

    . “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” -George Orwell

    “The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor.” -George Orwell

    “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” -James Madison

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      But Barack Obama is a Constitutional scholar and has a nice family? What did James Madison do besides being short?

      1. TomDor

        It seems to me that our species has been in the same type of battle since the beginning. On the few occasions, when history’s lessons have precipitated into action that results in true progress, freedoms (I include the Declaration of Independance and, the US Constitution among those bright points) and the common good…. we get lazy and lulled by enemies of common good into a complacency and entitlement. We lose our vigilance and sucome to propaganda – we are frogs in a pot and the temperature is being turned up un-noticed. A little bit of history repeating. Soon, we shall all be self confidently boiled.
        The tea party has not a wit to say anything intelligent about taxes and has utterly failed to understand it’s capitulation to the propaganda, spewed about by those most dedicated to avoiding taxes, avoiding shared responsibility and the common good. Those folks are boiled in the stew pot of the kleptocrats, plutocrats and oligarchs making. So for most of those tea party folks….I do not blame them, rather, I pity their capitulation to the delusions imposed upon them by the aforesaid, propagandists.
        The most destructive words uttered by any president were said by junior Bush… not because of his party affiliation but because of the content of the words “you are either for us or against us” – the derisiveness and cowardice of those words haunts me to this day – it is a call to live by the worst ethos of man, a call to live under the rule of the worst tyranny available – a call to live in fear.

        “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

    2. rps

      I’m Nobody! Who are you?
      Are you – Nobody – too?
      Then there’s a pair of us!
      Dont tell! they’d advertise – you know!

      How dreary – to be – Somebody!
      How public – like a Frog –
      To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
      To an admiring Bog!
      Emily Dickenson

  20. Demented Chimp

    Time to take to the barricades. We will have to keep up the pressure every way we can to get them to stand down and tear up the architecture they have created.

    No surrender!!

  21. Klassy!

    Here’s New Yorker staffer/CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin yesterday on CNN

    : He is in big legal trouble, isn’t he?

    TOOBIN: He is in a world of legal trouble and he should be — anyone who has access to classified information, whether a government employee or a government contractor like Snowden is, signs forms and is told in no uncertain terms that it is a very serious crime to disclose classified information. He has done that on an enormous scale and then he’s run off to Hong Kong.

    You know the idea that he’s some sort of hero and wants to be engaged in civil disobedience, why didn’t he hang around and face the music? Now he’s in essentially part of the People’s Republic of China where it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get him back. I find his behavior appalling. LEMON: Is there — you said difficult, if not impossible. He seems to think there are mechanisms the government can use and will use to get him back, however, Jeffrey.

    TOOBIN: Well, frankly, Don, I am just researching this now. Apparently there is an extradition treaty between Hong Kong and the United States. But remember, Hong Kong is a quasi-independent but mostly a subordinate province of the People’s Republic of China.

    We are now engaged in an enormous battle over access to information with the People’s Republic of China. So in theory, I think, it is possible that he could be extradited and returned to the United States to face trial. In practice, I think it’s going to be enormously difficult, and he seems to have picked one of the few places in the world where he is likely to get away with it.

    almost sounds as if he’s working for the state.

    1. curlydan

      Poor Jeffrey Toobin! He’s a little grumpy that a person made a good choice for himself. Hell, Jeff, just send some dudes into his hotel, extradite him to Egypt, and get “medieval on his a$$”. Would that make you feel better?!? Sure sounds like it.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Toobin is clearly a state tool. “You know the idea that he’s some sort of hero and wants to be engaged in civil disobedience, why didn’t he hang around and face the music?”

      Well duh, Jeffrey, why didn’t he hang around? Any idea what Caesar does to heroes? … to Manning? Can you imagine what he’d do to Assange if snatched from asylum? Do you know what he’s doing to prisoners of his Cuban gulag, most of whom have been cleared of wrongdoing and are held illegally and indefinitely. Caution in Snowden’s case is clearly the better part of valor.

      Another of his CNN performances was equally dreadful and embarrassing, worthy of summary disbarment IMO. He already convicted Snowden (as Obama did Manning) and impugned his character with twisted logic without even raising the slightest question about the manifest crimes Snowden bravely, conscientiously outed.


      “I think Snowden’s bizarre ideology…makes it even more bizarre(?)…I mean here’s someone who’s supposedly concerned about free speech and transparency and he goes to… one of the most repressive governments in the world. So I don’t think we’re looking at a coherent ideology here, where someone he’s upset, he doesn’t like government policy, but you know, we don’t usually make 29-year-old high school dropouts(?) decide what our policies are.”

      Jeff, first, it’s not about freedom of speech and transparency, it’s about wholesale unconstitutional manifest crimes and presidential hypocrisy. But yes, I must agree, the CIA giving a high school dropout top-secret clearance is quite comical, worthy of MASH’s Col. Flagg, and the rich irony of Snowden going to China is a delightful poke in Pharaoh’s eye.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Well duh, Jeffrey, why didn’t he hang around? Any idea what Caesar does to heroes?

        Before leaving the U.S., Snowden corresponded with the WaPo, as detailed in an article published today:

        To effect his plan, Snowden asked for a guarantee that The Washington Post would publish — within 72 hours — the full text of a PowerPoint presentation describing PRISM.

        I told him we would not make any guarantee about what we published or when.

        Snowden replied succinctly, “I regret that we weren’t able to keep this project unilateral.” Shortly afterward he made contact with Glenn Greenwald of the British newspaper the Guardian.


        Ultimately the WaPo did publish, but only after the Guardian broke the story.

        Evidently Snowden concluded, probably correctly, that the U.S. press is as under the thumb of the security state as Congress and the courts. Had he not exiled himself, this story might never have seen the light of day.

      2. TomDor

        I do not find anything comical about giving a high school drop-out high security clearance – it (college ed) does not automatically confer a higher purpose upon an individual. If one looks at what our learned folk have contrived in this country, one would logically conclude that a higher education (the sheep skin) class system has wrought untold damage.

        Maybe I am being defensive for personal reasons….after all, I am a highly uneducated individual. ;)

        There is a bright side, after watching great minds combat the recession you should be rid of your inferiority complex.

        My experience with the college educated is that many come out utterly shocked and awed – many so preoccupied with just the survival basics and, getting on the treadmill….that one has no time to consider the important things in life addressed in our Constitution and Declaration of Independance.

        1. Klassy!

          Honestly, it shows how little I think about our educational system that “dropout” just didn’t register with me. It means very little.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Point taken, although you don’t sound “highly uneducated”. What mostly seemed comical to me was Toobin’s attempt to denigrate Snowden, which only really tainted the CIA’s vaunted screening apparatus.

          MASH’s Col Flagg really portrayed the agency well, both dastardly-dangerous and hopelessly inept. Although the CIA has a fearful reputation for “successful” black-ops, destabilization, gun-running, drug-running, coups and death squads, it suffers acute analysis-paralysis and is notoriously incapable of actionable intelligence as revealed by the Iranian Revolution, the collapse of the USSR, 911, Iraq’s WMD, Benghazi, and so on. It’s the primary generator of global terrorism, and it’s frankly surprising there’s not much more blowback from all the evil it’s inflicted. The world and American people, all except the 1% profiteers, would be far better off without it.

        3. Lambert Strether

          One obvious point: Snowden wasn’t up to his eyeballs in student loans. He had a lot more degrees of freedom than people with degrees his age, and decades older.

    3. sssss

      Oh, right, asskissing sycophant Jeffrey Toobin, that wooly-headed dog, the Eddie Haskell of national security reporting. He too good for highschool grads, his Mom & Dad got him into Harvard and got him his jobs then he knocked up Casey Greenfield behind his wife’s back and crawled his way out of it. Hey, Who better to report on NSA back doors than Casey’s backdoor man?

  22. Brooklin Bridge

    The downside is that most of the usual suspects in the MSM are now focusing heavily on the leaker as “leaker” rather than on the spying as “spying”.

    No matter how custom made this extraordinary person/hero is for this desperate occasion (existential threat to democracy is no exaggeration), the American people have been largely transformed much as the Germans were in the 30’s even if the context is very different. Ordinary people are no longer ordinary and what was once understood by them as motherhood and apple pie, are now seen as dark threats. Like crickets become locust, many Americans are in thrall of the authoritarian state.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      What was once understood by them as motherhood and apple pie… What I meant by that was such things as: rule of law, fair treatment of POWs, fundamental right to privacy, right to fair trial, etc., etc. It’s hard for most, myself included, to fully understand these concepts, but they were accepted across the land only a few decades ago as icons, like apple pie and motherhood, of a democratic society and government. Now they are suspect, trivialized, even demonized by a people in thrall for safety in authority. The greater the authority, the more reassuring the sense of safety, at least for the time being. And this is why people act strangely, as if suddenly going into some sort of post hypnotic suggestion state, when ever terms like terrorism or threat to our safety or leaker or whistle-blower are mentioned. It’s why they can act with incredible brutality or utterly against their own self interest and common sense.

      1. Mike G

        It was always thus. Some Americans live in fear, reinforced by pride in their own ignorance and parochialism, and it is very useful to certain institutions to perpetuate this state of mind. Today they’ve just replaced communism with terrorism as the all-purpose bogeyman.

        The authoritarian followers who pissed their pants and succumbed to the opportunistic war-bullies of the Chenery/Bush administration are the children of the moral cowards who cheered on McCarthyism. Their idea of “freedom” is a predatory state that hunts down those that they fear.

  23. steelhead23

    As we admire Mr. Snowden, who acted out of conscience while smartly limiting his exposure to the police state, we should not forget Bradley Manning, who similarly acted out of conscience but has fallen into the maw of the police state.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Absolutely. It’s a real shame that Snowden felt he had to differentiate himself from Manning.

      1. nonclassical

        ..especially in light of General Smedley Butler parallel universe, 30’s depression era…

        (The Plot To Seize The White House)=Jules Archer)

        I should also note I tried to link to NSA news stories, and Yves’ site appears to have automatic oversight or delete factor regarding???!???

  24. Lee

    If we find out how our tax dollar are being spent, then we’re not getting my money’s worth. We pay good money to be protected from knowing such things.

  25. b2020

    Snowden himself started the disgraceful “I am better than Manning” meme. If we are into comparative BS, I’d venture he is “worse than Assange”? No matter how smart, there are no heroes. Manning does not deserve this crap anymore than anybody else. I agree with Snowden that personality – including significant flaws – should not distract from the issues raised. I suggest he take his own advice.

    1. sd

      There is a very large difference between Manning and Snowden. Intent may have been more or less the same, but the details are vastly different. Snowden was extremely narrow and deliberate in what he provided to the press.

        1. from Mexico

          Thanks for the link.

          Since the anti-Manning brigade has already began trotting out Snowden’s comments ad nauseaum, one needs a good empirical rebuttal at hand. It’s not that the anti-Manning brigade does fact, evidence, or reason, but one hopes that more neutral observers will be swayed by those things.

          It’s also worth noting that the usual suspects in the anti-Manning smear campaign — Obama along with other Democrats in an unholy aliance with the most reactionary right-wing Republicans on the planet — marshall such little moral authority that they must rely on a whistle blower to have any moral authority whatsoever.

  26. Jane Doe

    As a gay man I find the I’m better than Manning approach offensive

    Its defending bigotry to me bc one if the underlying issues that no one wants to speak about is that manning as a potential queer person isn’t a poster child

    I’m with you in NSA but not on this indentity politics presenting its self as PR

      1. Jane doe

        I don’t consider these to be tactics. Just a realization as usual that when talking about these things others are thinking of race and sexual orientation etc

        So, when they speak of equality or privacy as Richard Pryor would say the conversation isn’t about me or someone like me

        Because if we do something brave, that’s not a PR bonananza

        1. from Mexico

          There is no doubt that the Obama and army propagandists tailored their propaganda to appeal to ficticious anti-gay stereotypes. No one has ever done a better analysis of how this is done than J.E. Rivers in Proust & The Art of Love: The Aesthetics of Sexuality in the Life, Times & Art of Marcel Proust. Unfortuneately, the queer elite have not only been some of the most gullible consumers of these stereotypes, but also some of the most committed evangelists of them. The Obama and army propagandists immediately set out to dehumanize Manning with these stereotypes, with the collaboration of an all too large contingent of queer political leadership.

          Totalitarianism “establishes the secret police as the executors and guardians of its domestic experiment in constantly transforming reality into fiction,” Hannah Arendt points out in The Origins of Totalitarianism. And as she goes on to explain, “the chief value” of the secret police is their “unsurpassed capacity to establish and safeguard the ficticious world through consistent lying.” “Without the elite and its artifically induced inability to understand the facts,to distiguish between truth and falsehood,” she continues, “the movement could never move in the direction of realizing its fiction.” The queer elite is no exception.

          I don’t perceive Snowden as having been completely deprogrammed yet. He is still enamored of the fiction that he is part of the elite secret police. “Parties and open societies in general will consider only those who expressly oppose them to be their enemies, while it has always been the principle of secret societies that ‘whosoever is not expressly included is excluded’,” Arendt explains. “From the viewpoint of an organization which functions according to the principle that whoever is not included is excluded, whoever is not with me is against me, the world at large loses all the nuances, differentiations, and pluralistic aspects…. What inspired them with the unwavering loyalty of members of secret societies was not so much the secret as the dichotomy between Us and all others.”

          I think in Snowden’s mind, Manning never made the elite cut, and is still grouped with “all others.” I don’t think the fact Manning is gay has anything to do with it. I don’t see any of this as particularly surprising, however, as modesty is surely not a trait of those capable of doing what Manning and Snowden did. In order to do what they did, they certainly have to hold their own ideas and opinions in high esteem.

          1. Lambert Strether

            It will be very interesting to see if the treatment that was meted out to Manning, Assange, and other whistleblowers is meted out to Assange, the editors of the Guardian, and Greenwald.

  27. neo-realist

    The people on the right being alarmed by the reach of the security state are going public because it’s a democratic president doing it, so it’s nothing much more than political point scoring for them. Pretty much all of them were clammed up when their own guy Bush was doing it. For the Cons, this will be nothing more than momentary outrage. If they were to use their pulpits to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the overreach, demand transparency, and appropriate checks on the security state’s reach–which they won’t do because if their guy gets back in office, they’ll support the use of it against their political and ideological enemies–Then I could take the Cons seriously.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Having Peggy Noonan on “our side”? I’d rather take a shower with electric eels.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is obvious about the nominal* right, but this President and his Democratic henchmen don’t deserve protection from their attacks because its two tribes vying for the right to be thugs. Let the monsters attack each other.

      *We have two fascist parties. One just wants to be cooler.

      1. neo-realist

        You don’t have to tell me that “great pretender” and his minions need protection; I’m just saying that Conservobots acting like they’ve got religion over police state surveillance is to be taken with a grain of salt since if their tribe were in the oval office, they would be totally supportive of doing the same.

    3. nonclassical

      ….too, too obviously…
      “Project For A New American Century” bushitters invented bushbama shit…

  28. AbyNormal

    “It wouldn’t have made a difference. I freely chose my response to this absurd world. If given the opportunity, I would have been more vigorous.”

    (Christopher[falcon & the snowman] explaining why he didn’t express his unhappiness with the CIA in a more acceptable manner)

    but it is.

  29. Skeptic

    Sorry, too far gone to even begin to get excited by yet another “hero” who as Yves put it “You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter.”

    Gee, that’s an interesting statement, huh?

    1) Snowden told us exactly nothing that any half-aware person in this already existant police-state didn’t already know or at least fully suspect.

    2) Like Manning’s leak, the information really is ho-hum. In Manning’s case, I guess that we were supposed to be excited about the revelations that in launching TWO illegal wars of aggression – war crimes in and of themselves – based upon a false flag attack on 9/11 – the United States committed even MORE war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?! Whodathunk?

    Similarly, with Snowden, we’re supposed to be surprised and downright outraged that the government has been snooping on us when the PATRIOT act has been law for over a decade?!!

    Total Information Awareness, Room 641A and on and on but only now everyone’s just so surprised and mad?

    3) The POTUS has stated that he has the right to murder US citizens without trial and I’m supposed to be MORE outraged over the fact that the government is tapping my phone which I – with much evidence to believe so – already basically thought they were doing?

    I know eveyone will start to shout me down but whenever I see the American herd rushing – or being rushed? – to the next shiny object or “hero” in this matrix-like prison of a country, the first thing I do is STOP MOVING and START THINKING.

    High school dropout, worked his entire life for intelligence services, trained to be special forces, was making way over 6 figures and now this gushingly articulate young man decides to come forward and save us all?!

    Oh joy.

    There sure is nothing to make a person stop and think for a second there in his bio, huh?

    Right, I’m probably just too cynical for my own good.

    Maybe I’m really jealous of Snowden or something like that.

    Or maybe since the government and the media rammed the fairy tale of 9/11 down our throats and continues to support that farcical nonsense with all of its spin-offs and ridiculous addenda to this day, I don’t take anything or anyone the media tells me to pay attention to at face value no matter how much I’d really really like to believe in it.

    Call me cyncial but it seems that a society that already exists within a police-state and who desperately want/need a hero are going to get one handed to them.

    P.S.: Some writers I’ve read have said that Snowden is the greatest whistle-blower in the last 100 years?

    Hyperbolic much?

    1. Skeptic

      I’m sorry, you’re right.

      I made the mistake of trying to push a bit of caution into the inane sycophantic void of discourse in Good Ole Spectacle USA!!

      My bad….

      Snowden/Warren ’16!!!

      Nobel Peace Prize!!!

      I’m definitely Team Edward!!!

      Marry me, Edward!!

      1. Valissa

        LOL! Did you really think you could get away with an honest cynical opinion on this topic at this time? I’ve been called a troll too when I went against the crowd here. Consider a merit badge ;)

          1. Valissa

            Hey, I usually offer cartoons and other antidotes to the news drama cycle rather than argue points. In my early years at NC I tended to make more substantial comments, but that was a different era here. If being tolerant (a value I happen to hold strongly!) causes some to judge me vaporous, then… oh well, I’ve been called worse.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Kind of amusing seeing someone called a troll on NC for being too cynical.

        I think it’s a worthwhile perspective to keep in mind in a “What if…” sense, especially if things start looking like they don’t add up. But I’m not sure I buy it on the basis of the current evidence. For one thing, I don’t see the potential payoff that could justify what would have been a multi-year effort. For another, I’m not sure that the counter-terrorism sector in the US could be that organized. From all accounts, the system that has sprung up since 9/11 is an enormous bureaucracy rife with redundancy and waste, and simply coordinating everything that it’s doing in a given space is an enormous challenge. (See the “Top Secret America” report by the Washington Post, for example).

        Of course if you assume the existence of an intelligence sector powerful enough to orchestrate something like the Greenwald/Snowden story, then it would surely have no problem misleading the Washington Post. But I think we’re starting to get into conspiracy theory territory at that point.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Those weren’t Daniel Eisberg’s exact words, but he did say Snowden’s efforts were more important than his release of the Pentagon papers. Go slither back into your Obot hole.

      1. Valissa

        Sure he said that, but that doesn’t mean it’s true or that everyone has to agree. Personally I thought Ellsburg’s was the more major revelation as the US public was still very naïve back then. Whereas anyone who watches network TV shows has known for years that there was virtually no online privacy. Snowden’s revelation merely confirmed what most already knew or suspected.

        Many will choose to see him as a hero (which Snowden himself denied; but people want heroes to believe in) and some will choose to demonize him (almost all establishment members and most anyone who has ambitions of being higher up in the establishment). It is not unreasonable to be skeptical of the whole drama and where it will lead. I hope Snowden’s revelations do lead to more whistleblowing and more political discussions on the privacy issue, but I’m not holding my breath.

      2. Skeptic

        Sorry, but Elsberg’s wrong.

        Never before released information concerning mulitple POTUS lying about a war that led to the deaths of over 3 MILLION people.


        The “leaking” of information over which no one has lost their life – yet – and which many people already knew about?


        Oh, Edward, you taste like secrets!!!!


        Obot? Really, you mean like all those other “truther” Obots you’ve seen at dkos? (chortle)

        Swing and a big miss, nTG!

        I guess since this damages Obama and I say that maybe we shouldn’t believe what the media presents to us – but, but it’s Greenwald!!! – then I guess I’m the big O’s biggest fan, right?

        Just like when I called bullshite on the farce that was P*ssy Riot and I was Putin’s bettest bud, huh?

        Note to self: Never get between a starstruck fan and his American idol!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Is an Obot calling someone else a starstruck fan? Is morale a bit low over at the DNC these days?

        2. ohmyheck

          Skeptic, I am going to cross-post this other comment of yours here, because I think it belongs:

          “I love how asking questions means one is an Obama apologist.

          I guess being super-kewel in figuring out that Obama was a fraud means that there’s just NO WAY you could be suckered by another fraud/patsy, huh?

          Here a list of questions from another site:


          Could Snowden have been given extraordinary access to classified info as part of a larger scheme? Could he be a) an honest man and yet b) a guy who was set up to do what he’s doing now?

          If b) is true, then Snowden fits the bill perfectly. He wants to do what he’s doing. He isn’t lying about that. He means what he says.

          Okay. Let’s look at his history as reported by The Guardian.

          In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army. He begins a training program to join the Special Forces. The sequence here is fuzzy. At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this training program? Does he need to demonstrate some exceptional ability before Special Forces puts him in that program?

          Snowden breaks both legs in a training exercise. He’s discharged from the Army. Is that automatic? How about healing and then resuming Army service? Just asking.

          If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

          Circa 2003 (?), Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA? It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

          Also in 2003 (?), Snowden shifts jobs. He’s now in the CIA, in IT. He has no high school diploma. He’s a young computer genius?

          In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva. He’s only 23 years old. The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there. He’s put in charge of maintaining computer-network security. Major job. Obviously, he has access to a very wide range of classified documents. Sound a little odd? Again, just asking. He’s just a kid. Maybe he has his GED by now. Otherwise, he still doesn’t have a high school diploma.

          Snowden says that during this period, in Geneva, one of the incidents that really sours him on the CIA is the “turning of a Swiss banker.” One night, CIA guys get a banker drunk, encourage him to drive home, the banker gets busted, the CIA guys help him out, then with that bond formed, they eventually get the banker to reveal deep banking secrets to the Agency.

          Snowden is this naïve? He doesn’t know by now that the CIA does this sort of thing all the time? He’s shocked? He “didn’t sign up for this?”

          In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA. Why? Presumably because he’s disillusioned. It should be noted here that Snowden claimed he could do very heavy damage to the entire US intelligence community in 2008, but decided to wait because he thought Obama, just coming into the presidency, might make good changes.

          After two years with the CIA in Geneva, Snowden really had the capability to take down the whole US intelligence network, or a major chunk of it? He had that much access to classified data?

          Anyway, in 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA and goes to work for a private defense contractor. Apparently, by this time, he knows all about the phony US war in Iraq, and yet he chooses to work for a sector that relentlessly promotes such wars. Go figure.

          This defense contractor (unnamed) assigns him to work at an NSA facility in Japan. Surely, Snowden understands what the NSA is. He knows it’s a key part of the whole military-intelligence network, the network he opposes.

          But he takes the job anyway. Perhaps he’s doing it so he can obtain further access to classified data, in advance of blowing a big whistle. Perhaps.

          Snowden goes on to work for two private defense contractors, Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. In this latter job, Snowden is again assigned to work at the NSA.

          He’s an outsider, but he claims to have so much sensitive NSA data that he can take down the whole US intelligence network in a single day. Hmm.

          These are red flags. They raise questions. Serious ones.”

          Folks, I am not defending or offended by these questions Skeptic made. Some of them are valid. I, for one, was immediately skeptical of the Boston Bombing story, and I was proved correct in my skepticism.

          I am not in favor of group-think and echo-chambers. It is very odd that someone without a high school diploma could even enter the U.S. Armed Forces. Maybe I am wrong in my assumption that it is not possible.

          I also hope that Skeptic is wrong. I think Snowden is doing some remarkable things and I heartily support his efforts.

          1. Mark P.

            Yes, it’s interesting. Snowden’s CV does have the look of a legend, and not a very good one.

            Conversely, of course, real life doesn’t have to worry about being plausible. Whereas if Snowden’s CV was/is a legend, whoever was responsible for putting it together would do a better, more plausible job.

            It is possible for new recruits and (nowadays) even civilians to go straight into Special Forces if they ace the required tests, apparently —



            And on the physical side, of course, ultimately Snowden did fail (that he presumably hid the fact that he had epilepsy before he managed to break both his legs is nutty enough to be true; I’ve known kids like that).

            So that part is possible. But there are other parts of Snowden’s CV that should make anyone ask: “How does that even work?”

            ***”Circa 2003 (?), Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA? It was just a generic job opening he found out about?”

            In combination with his next move ….

            “… in 2003 (?), Snowden shifts jobs. He’s now in the CIA, in IT. He has no high school diploma. He’s a young computer genius?”

            I dunno.

            1. Lambert Strether

              There are plenty of smart people who got into IT without being credentialed; it’s one of the few fields that still allows that. And if Snowden didn’t get the indoctrination that comes with getting a diploma from one of the Ivies, well, maybe that would explain why he was able to do what he did.

              * * *

              That said, the material I read on Snowden’s bio (WaPo, Guardian, Allentown Morning Call) is pretty sketchy; father worked in the Coast Guard; family lived “near Fort Meade” (oh?). So I think it’s appropriate to flesh those details out with evidence. Principles not personalities.

    3. nonclassical

      …not “hyperbolic”…..rather, 30’s depression era blame game politics..undeniable, when we read historical documentation…

  30. Jerry

    What provisions of the Constitution are we willing to have removed due to the fear of being killed by terrorist?
    At what point then do we no longer have a democracy but instead authoritarian government? How close are we to
    losing our democracy?

  31. Jerry

    Oh….one more thing…I believe this is a set up to eliminate the freedom of the current internet…(remember how the internet was attacked during the Boston event)…Soon NCA will be saying they need to control the internet in order to protect us…..

  32. allcoppedout

    There is a telling UK case – a young man in love with a young woman had tickets to fly to Belfast from Robin Hood Airport. The airport got snowed in and the and threatened to burn it down in a tweet. It was utterly obvious he was joking and there was no real threat. He was convicted, his appeal rejected and then granted by our supreme court. There was never any need for the investigation, arrest and the rest, but no one stopped it until the final court of appeal.

    I don’t have much problem with surveillance and think we should look at the issues in more depth. The big threats to us and democracy obviously concern openness and the lunacy of our establishment from the ground up. The real problem is we are running scared in chatter instead of occupying the streets. We are not standing up for Manning or this other guy at all. The issues are obvious.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A Neanderthal knew if he didn’t get up and go catch a squirrel, he wouldn’t have dinner. He was conditioned to physical labor, to doing things.

      We modern me, we are used to getting what we need by hitting a button. That explains why we chatter when we are scared.

  33. Jim

    Edward Snowden, in his recent Guardian You Tube interview (with Greenwald) stated that as an infrastructure analyst for the NSA he had access to the entire rooster of NSA and CIA assets, positions and station locations( apparently including all those who are undercover) all around the world.

    He stated that the release of that type of information could shut-down the Surveillance State in an afternoon.

    Is this an accurate assessment of the power of this information?

    Is this the kind of leverage that might keep him alive?

    Would he be wrong in using this information as leverage or is this type of leverage necessary when attempting to successfully confront and survive the NSA?

  34. Hugh

    The problem from the Administration’s point of view is that Obama has been caught at long last with his pants around his ankles. But Obama is boxed in by his own lies. He has to go after Snowden to prevent as much as possible other Snowdens. He has to defend the NSA programs because the surveillance state is necessary to late stage kleptocracy and the power of the elites. But these programs are so contrary to his public persona that anything he says about them will be taken to be lies and will further undercut that persona. Nor does it help Obama to have a vicious old fossil like Diane Feinstein running point for him. All that does is remind everyone about the millions her defense contractor husband has made and how incestuous and corrupt the system is. As for James Clapper, at best he comes across as a bland, untrustworthy senior bureaucrat. Even more so than Obama you know he is lying. It is his job to lie and the only question is which word or phrase opens the door to his lie.

    The following is just my opinion. The Washington political classes expect for a second term President to become at some point a lame duck. This does not mean that President loses all his power. Rather it is that people’s perception of him changes. His popularity fades. More people reject him, but what really kills him and his “legacy” is how many plain and simply give up on him. Much like Bush’s 26 percenters, there will always be some core that will defend Obama to the end. But for most Americans Obama could become nothing more than another burden to be borne. This will wound Obama’s enormous ego at some level and send him even further into the arms of the haves and have mores.

    1. The Rage

      Most people who defend Obama don’t care because they don’t see anything to fear.

      Your post is way off and misses the point completely.

    2. reslez

      Obama’s ego + the American public’s rejection of him = a dangerous combination. For us.

      Obama seems the type to do as much damage as possible on his way out for sheer spite.

  35. Susan the other

    The best thing I can say about Snowden is that he has the face of uncertainty. And he leaves me with the anticipation that I can still relieve my misery by subterfuge. I can produce all sorts of misinformation. And if I can convince my friends to do the same, we can have tons of fun. Fucking Carlyle. Other than that I can’t react because all three of my eyeballs are spinning like a slot machine.

    1. nonclassical

      ..susan-read Kevin Phillips’, “American Dynasty” (historical on bush family) and all 4 of your eyeballs will come into focus…


      interesting in James Baker-tying together devolution(?) from “Walker”-munitions side of bush family, to Baker oriented “financialization”=Carlyle side…and including close family friends-Saudis to McGraw and Hill, S & P 500….

      $3.99 to your door, free shipping…

  36. docG

    I was recently asked to comment, on my blog, regarding this issue, and this is how I responded:

    I’m NOT a kneejerk liberal, so I don’t have prepackaged responses to this sort of thing. In fact I must say I’m more disappointed in the current state of liberalism/ progressivism in this country than I am in Obama. We are, since 9/11, living in a very different world than that of the late 20th century. Warfare has taken on a completely different meaning. Our vaunted powers can be turned against us, and no matter how powerful we might consider ourselves to be, we are in fact extraordinarily vulnerable.

    I predicted many years ago that the wars of the future would be fought on the basis of “intelligence,” meaning both the need to be intelligent in dealing with our problems and our “enemies”, i.e., outsmarting them, and also “intelligence” in the sense of maintaining effective networks of information gathering.

    In the age of terrorism, when a single person or a small cell has the potential to launch a devastating attack, anything from some firecrackers in a pressure cooker, to a nuclear device, the govt. has the responsibility to gather as much information as possible about any individual or group that might be in the process of preparing such an attack — and that includes, imo, the kind of surveillance and also “entrapment” exercises that bother liberals so much. Unfortunately surveillance and entrapment are absolutely necessary if we are to survive as a civilized society. As Obama recently stressed, there is always going to be a tradeoff needed, we can’t have it both ways 100%.

    The Internet and phone surveillance that everyone is so concerned over is not the same as wire tapping, and only means monitoring who is in contact with whom. If you are tracking a known terrorist, or other crazy nutcase, then it’s important to know who that person is in touch with. I for one could care less if the govt. is keeping track of my contacts, because I’m not a terrorist and feel reasonably sure none of my friends are either. And there is safety in numbers. I would much rather see that sort of thing happening (govt. surveillance) then be faced with a situation where I wake up some morning to learn that NYC or Washington has been hit by a nuclear device someone smuggled into the country in a suitcase. And think of what would happen to our “civil rights” after such an attack. Moslems would be murdered in the streets, and most likely the survivors would be carted off to concentration camps like the Japanese during WWII. If a certain amount of judicious surveillance can prevent such an event from happening I’m all for it.
    I just now watched the interview with Snowden and was surprised at his claim that he or any of his associates had the power to wire tap anyone’s phone or get access to his or her emails. This contradicts Obama’s claim that access of this sort is NOT possible under the current system, and that surveillance is restricted to monitoring who is in touch with whom.

    That makes a significant difference as far as I’m concerned, and I’m now wondering what the case actually is in this respect. If Snowden is right, and even a relatively low level employee such as himself has the power to wire tap literally anyone in the country without permission from a higher-up then there is something VERY wrong with that system and he is entirely justified in blowing the whistle.

    On the other hand, if Obama is telling the truth and the NSA does not have such authority, then I have to say I approve. Not that I’m comfortable with the situation because there is still room for abuse, but because I recognize the existence of a clear and present danger that few liberals in this country want to even think about, much less deal with effectively.

    The lesson we should have learned from 9/11 was the need to be proactive. I’m pleased to see that the Obama administration appears to have learned that lesson. The next step is to effectively communicate it to the nation as a whole.

    1. dimwitG

      A knee jerker isn’t a threat to anybody. Who wanted to wake up one morning and have the economy explode, 20 million people tossed out of their homes, criminal police actions engaged in around the world in our names a criminal justice system that lock up more people than Stalin, you st$%pid f#$$ing moron.

    2. sd

      Self-regulating worked out so well with the banks, that it must work well with the NSA too.

    3. Chris Engel


      Unfortunately surveillance and entrapment are absolutely necessary if we are to survive as a civilized society.


      Terrorism does not pose an existential threat to the United States, it never did. Our overreaction to terrorism, however, certainly does.

    4. Chris Inglis

      Right, you can trust us to protect you from all the devastating horrible attacks of unthinkable ghastliness that haunt your awful nightmares. Why just the other day, I disarmed a suitcase nuke with 2 seconds on the timer. Whew!

      We do appreciate your support. I’m glad you see it my way, because some of those porn stars on your hard drive, they’re awful flat, you know? So keep up the good work, Pedobear!

    5. AbyNormal

      I must say a word about FEAR. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.
      martel, life of pi

    6. Anon Too

      You sir are the perfect example of what our government is looking for to support the post 9/11 regime. Surveillance isn’t so bad if…Rendition is necessary if…Torture is acceptable if… Destroying our values to fight terrorism is a big part of what Bin Laden hoped to achieve with his attack on the World Trade Center

    7. reslez

      when a single person or a small cell has the potential to launch a devastating attack, anything from some firecrackers in a pressure cooker, to a nuclear device, the govt. has the responsibility to gather as much information as possible

      This is why Ian Welsh keeps saying it’s important to give people meaningful and fulfilling lives, rather than crush them underfoot with underemployment and despair. Happy people don’t build bombs. Now we have entire segments of society seething with desperation and anger.

      Yet you and your authoritarian friends would rather surrender your natural rights to a drone happy tyrant than take responsibility for what our government is doing in our name. Seriously, F234 you and serfs who think like you. Citizenship means rights and responsibilities. Those include keeping government power in check.

      I for one could care less if the govt. is keeping track of my contacts, because I’m not a terrorist

      I’m glad we cleared that up, mate, let’s hope Uncle Sam never turns his magnifying glass on you. I guarantee it you have said/written/thought something that can be interpreted the wrong way.

      there is safety in numbers

      There was 5-7 years ago. Not anymore. Nuclear suitcase? Seriously, you are a cartoon and a troll.

      1. reslez

        The surveillance state is not about keeping people safe. It’s about profit and control.

  37. proximity1

    What impresses me most about the situation is how stark a contrast is offered us here of low morals in at the “highest levels” and high morals at the “lower” levels.

    Consider: Three people, faced, through their professional careers at work with a set of devastating moral quandries, have to choose their course of actions. In each case, their consciences had to somehow resolve the moral dilemmas. Shall that be at their own expense, and, at that, immense expense–loss of career, livlihood, home, the severe risk of, for the low level people concerned, imprisonment for life, and, for the higher level, public scorn, loss of prestige, power, and miscomprehension among peers and critics—

    In one case, faced with multiple moral dilemmas, each time, where it counted most in terms of the nation’s Constitutional law and most basic democratic principles, at the highest-level, the person at the top demonstrated the lowest moral integrity; severely tested morally, he failed, and the left the nation to suffer as a consequence, taking a decision to play to his political or personal advantage, often taking hypocritical and self-serving stances.

    In two others, those of the lower-level, namely Bradley Manning and Edawrd Snowden, the highest moral example was set, with immense personal costs entailed, great personal harm and risks assumed. These two, at the “low-end” of the status structure, offered the highest in moral integrity and placed themselves in danger and took upon themselves the losses that they knew well their actions would exact from them–even in the best of scenarios.

    We have Manning on trial and facing a possible life-term; we have Snowden now obliged to hide and to live as a fugitive for doing what was morally just and difficult.

    And we have President Obama (among many, many other officials in high government and corporate places), at the highest level of the status structure, a moral disgrace for failing where Manning and Snowden showed the quality of their consciences.

    1. reslez

      Our system doesn’t let people reach the top unless they have the moral fiber of pond scum. There’s pre-screening.

  38. Jane Doe

    I’m black and gay

    Those aren’t tactics to me

    So yes I’m going to notice quotes that leave me out

  39. Jim Haygood

    Now for a quaint blast from the past:

    The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It was created to prevent “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records.”

    Congress passed the VPPA after Robert Bork’s video rental history was published during his Supreme Court nomination. It makes any “video tape service provider” that discloses rental information outside the ordinary course of business liable for up to $2500 in actual damages.


    Evidently, anyone who downloaded a video (even YouTube) on a Verizon phone is entitled to sue for damages under VPPA.

    Wouldn’t it be great if a class action suit — including as certified plaintiffs some members of Congress who watched videos on their Verizon Blackberries — could slam Verizon up against the wall and rip their face off for a few trillion?

    Save America, screw a telco …

  40. rps

    Seriously, if the NSA, Carlyle Group/ Booz Allen are spying and tracking me, than I should be reimbursed for the expenses I incur to own and operate my cell phones and computers. Without us to spy on, they’d be out of a job and living on the dole, while sitting on the couch in their pjs replaying “A Few Good Men” mimicking Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup and Tom Cruise: “You want answers? I want the truth. You can’t handle the truth! We use words like honor, code, loyalty… I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way…..”

    Instead, they’re paid a fat government check as ’employees’ while sitting in front of U.S taxpayer paid computers replaying A Few Good Men…..that I provide. I’d rather they just said thank you

  41. Hugh

    Re the arguments that the surveillance state is necessary to keep us safe, I am reminded of the response of that unserious hippy radical Benjamin Franklin:

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

    We live in a kleptocracy, government by criminals, and it is frankly amazing that anyone would wish to vouchsafe them virtually unlimited powers to spy on us in the name of keeping us safe from the criminals. They are the criminals.

    They have looted hundreds of millions, destroyed the jobs of tens of millions, and stolen the houses of millions. We have a 9/11 every month of people dying because they have no access to healthcare. Obamacare will likely have little impact on this. It certainly will have none on those who suffer and die from poor healthcare. Yet they say, “Terrorist,” and at the sound of that word, so many are willing to sign away the rights that so many more Americans over our history fought and died for. Like I said, simply amazing.

    1. The Rage

      Innavation and the Boomers aging has destroyed millions of jobs.

      It is like the “Joseph McCarthy” witchtrials. They were ran so the capitalists could make profit. “Oh, there are Russian(Communist) spies”, eh, duh, yup. There are STILL Russian(no longer called Communist) spies. While this was going on, Truman was told to let the Chicoms into power and then arm a global military that could battle “global communism”. Which created a permanent military industrial complex and police state, whether public or private. Yet, Right Wingers still worship McCarthy. Communism was a scam. McCarthy was scamming you. John D Rockefeller came up with the idea in 1914 to make money from failing monarchy’s/bourgeois states. The Soviet Union and Democratic Centralism were heavily capitalist created through marketing. The capitalists made a deal with the Reds and then they proceeded to profit until Stalin kicked them all out.

      Then they profited from waring against Stalin’s Russia. Then they created “anti-communist” right wing groups like the Birchers to fan the flames while financing communist movements globally to “fight against”. They were trying to finance the Central American coms in the mid-80’s, though they gave up after that, knowing the party was over.

      This goes way beyond what you could ever know. The war on terror is just another money making scheme by capital. One, that is failing to produce much profit right now.

  42. Paul Tioxon

    The amount of data aggregated by the NSA seems to be an easy end run around the current federal law against a national gun registry. It would be a not too difficult algorithm to produce a list of gun owners, and a list of most likely to own guns. I wonder where the NRA and right wing republicans and democrats who voted against the most recent Senate Gun Control bill will stand in knowing that a national registry is a search engine away from any law enforcement agency on a daily basis. It may not be a standing list, but one with a google like search could be updated at the moment it is requested from the massive data base.

  43. Kim Kaufman

    Petition on WH web:

    “Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” the petition reads. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snowden/Dp03vGYD

    It’s moving quickly. And if this can’t get over 100,000 signers in a day or so, shame on… well, I’m not sure where to place that blame but there’s enough to go around.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Yup, the comatose frogs are contentedly lounging in the hot tub. Anyway, you gotta give up a lot of your liberties to protect your freedom; it’s perfectly logical.

        Fear and divisive tribalism work every time. It’s why the 1%’s selection of Obama to occupy the plantation mansion was diabolically brilliant. As Trojan horse/wolf-in-sheepskin, he neutered the Congressional Black Caucus; pacified field drones; crushed white racists while soothing the white liberal elite in their outsize privilege; rendered the US Constitution moot and destroyed democracy in a final coup. Following the ‘nukular’ disaster of his boorish frat-boy predecessor, installing a stealth Neocon in progressive drag was epic Machiavellian strategy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What matters is scaring politicians. What is the breakdown of Republican/Democratic voters? Republicans are devoutly loyal, but are Democrats? 2010 demonstrated Obama can’t bring out the black vote without his name on the ballot.

      Many Democrats can’t afford to lose 10% of their vote total because they aren’t going to receive crossover votes, so the solution is to make them pay. Fear only works for so long, but between the attacks on Social Security, foreign policy thuggery, and the security state, Democratic politicians need to think about their coalition. Oh sure, they might get a great lobbying job, but if there is a wave year, they might not be as in vogue.

      In defense of the populace, no elected Democrats have spoken out against the President directly. Have any questioned the failure of the NSA vis a vis the Boston bombing? Instead Franken is claiming this is old news. Well, Franken is up for re-election this year. The people in Minnesota who care should make sure he knows, but he isn’t going to win without strong Democratic support. The beauty is most of the people who support NSA spying probably don’t care about Franken or the President’s position. They have chosen not to be self-aware and have demonstrated voting is a tribal matter over and over again despite the myths of the independent American voter which has never existed. For Franklin to overcome the conservative tribe, he needs people on his side, and scaring people with threats of Republicans isn’t going to work anymore.

  44. barrisj

    Wait, wait, before “TIA” and “PRISM”, there was and there is the notorious ECHELON program run by NSA, with cooperation from counterpart SIGINT agencies in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. That bit of super-surveillance operation also had been abused and its practitioners gone off-piste, and had been thoroughly dissected by a committee of the European Parliament. The point is that the latest revelations only point to a (natural?) evolution of massive and intrusive spying on EVERYBODY, as NO GOVERNMENT is prepared to put this genie back in the bottle. Check out this article for some background:

    Revisiting Echelon: The NSA’s Clandestine Data Mining Program
    A clandestine National Security Agency spy program code-named Echelon was likely one of the programs the Bush administration used to tap into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of thousands of average American citizens, according to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence officials from the NSA.

    The existence of the program has been publicly known for years. Echelon was developed in the 1970s primarily as an American-British intelligence sharing system to monitor foreigners – specifically, during the Cold War, to catch Soviet spies. But sources said the spyware, operated by satellite, is the means by which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans when President Bush secretly authorized the agency to do so in 2002.

    Another top-secret program code-named Tempest, also operated by satellite, is capable of reading computer monitors, cash registers and automatic teller machines from as far away as a half-mile and is being used to keep a close eye on an untold number of American citizens, the sources said, pointing to a little known declassified document that sheds light on the program.

    Echelon has been shrouded in secrecy for years. A special report prepared by the European Parliament in the late 1990s disclosed explosive details about the covert program when it alleged that Echelon was being used to spy on two foreign defense contractors – the European companies Airbus Industrie and Thomson-CSF – as well as sifting through private emails, industrial files and cell phones of foreigners.

    The program is part of a multinational spy effort that includes intelligence agencies in Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia, also known as the Echelon Alliance, which is responsible for monitoring different parts of the world.


    We’ve all been here before, people, nothing new, move along.

  45. The Rage

    Snowden is tied to Rand Paul and spying industrial complex. Snowden is indeed a traitor and conspiring for private industry who spies on people.

    Think of it this way, discredit the NSA, who then outsources more and more “functions” to private companies who on profit and money, spy for the rich on anybody and anyone they want. Think of a wealthy capitalist who hires one of these firms to spy on his/her companies workers?

    This is pure reason and internationalism. The destruction of the nation state to a global market state.

  46. Jackrabbit

    Since the disclosure of vast, pervasive collection of information on US citizens was revealed, Obama and his Administration have been undeterred in their support for, and continuance of, these practices. It appears clear that the Administration does not view secrecy as a requirement for PRISM and other data collection programs.

    Yet, it is very difficult to believe that the FISA judge that signed off on this unconstitutional surveillance was informed that it would proceed absent the protection of secrecy that the Administration requested that he or she provide(!!). I have to believe that the Judge was misled, if not lied to. How could it be otherwise?.

    But instead of investigating the circumstances surrounding the apparently errant request for secrecy, Obama defends a program that is unconstitutional and inherently dangerous to a free, democratic society. To me, this constitutes a grave breach of his Oath, “…to protect and defend the Constitution…”

    Furthermore, the conclusion that a breach has occurred is supported by a number of less grave, but very troubling, actions and in-actions that now appear to add up to a pattern of behavior suggestive of contempt for the Constitution and the American people:
    – failure to fulfill promises such as transparency of governance, ending signing statements, and restoring civil liberties;
    – waging an undeclared war in Libya;
    – Fast and Furious;
    – the IRS scandal;
    – a war on whistle-blowers that has encroached upon freedom of the press;
    – cronyism and Too-Big-To-Jail;
    and more.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Isn’t this now a Constitutional crisis?

      Oh sure there were previous programs, and rumors of pervasive data collection, but now that it is in the open a choice has to be made: defend constitutional protections, or accept an ever more encroaching, ever more powerful security state? Is there a middle-ground?

      Many, many people have come out to say that al-Queda was never the threat it was made out to be, and that, in any case, there is no reason to continue draconian surveillance and reduced civil liberties.

      “No one is reading your emails” is not an adequate response to the Constitutional issues raised. It’s just outrageously contemptuous bullsh!t PR.

  47. ron

    The significance of this program is not its information gathering mission as it is another part of the the defense security tech industrial complex sucking up dollars. This is another government sponsored job program while somewhat secret its man goal is to reward those that contribute dollars to major political parties and provide a boast to GNP by pushing tech equipment/apps/software and jobs.
    Frankly 99.99 percent of Americans should just forward there calls to the CIA and save a few billion in government overhead.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      Ron, I think you have written one of the most perceptive comments here. There is a huge element of stimulus/makework in this program. Tens of billions of dollars in contracts can change the fortunes of many.

      BUT, it is worth wondering why this program is being carried out at all. As much are we right to feel violated, I think our vulnerabilities should not be the only place we focus our attention. What I am almost positive deserves more of our attention is what those who thought up these programs sought to protect. I’m pretty sure it almost nothing to do with saving us from ”terrorist attacks’.

      1. skippy

        Looks like to much work… someone should attach a paper bag to such tombs suggestions… same results can be achieved in a restful prone position.

        skippy… seek crazzymans tutelage for more advanced theory…

  48. washunate

    Just wanted to say a quick thanks Yves for your continuing focus and energy on this topic. Domestic spying is really where the rubber meets the road, tying together the bipartisan assault on the Constitution, the need for transparency in governance, the economic theory that wasteful spending is good, the two tiered justice system, and generally the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power.

  49. steelhead23

    This should be a perma-thread. It is not surprising to me that there are folks on network TV calling for the execution of Edward Snowden. I have read Lakoff. I understand the authoritarian archetype. What does somewhat surprise me is that such authoritarians often spout off about personal freedom, often best expressed as their personal right to stockpile nuclear weapons – or at least assault rifles and handguns, which have, no doubt, killed more people than have nukes. But I digress. Those of us who truly value our freedom and want to maintain it, should be loudly clamoring not just for this program to be curtailed, but for the NSA to be defunded and de-authorized entirely. What value is an agency to the security of the American people if it has so corrupted its own mission that it is now spending the majority of its funds spying on Americans? Can I get a WTF? Unfortunately, with the record of America’s intelligence services running drugs, if defunded by Congress I suspect the agency would rather rapidly become self-funded.

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