Links 6/12/13

Dear patient readers,

Our new webhost did some site tuning, so you should see better or at least no worse performance than before (I’m seeing much snappier loading on my slow copper connection). We will (LATER) be working with our ad service to improve performance on that end.

Tornado Survivor, 5, Killed By Family Friend’s Dog Huffington Post :-(

Disease Outbreak Threatens the Future of Good Coffee Wired

Forget Oil – There is a Far More Precious Commodity at Stake OilPrice

Oil product glut coming as refineries mushroom-IEA Retuers

NGOs Target Financial Investment in Farmland Triple Crisis

Julia Gillard’s ‘small breasts’ served up on Liberal party dinner menu Guardian. Yowza, this has to set some sort of record in tackiness.

Chinese property sales slowing MacroBusiness

Turkey riot police battle protesters BBC

Germany’s brother gladiators battle over euro destiny in constitutional court Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Chase Madar, Bradley Manning vs. SEAL Team 6 Tom Engelhardt

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

NSA surveillance: anger mounts in Congress at ‘spying on Americans’ Guardian

Surveillance: Snowden Doesn’t Rise to Traitor New York Times. Editorial. Interesting tension developing between NYT news coverage and the editorial page. Also may have been provoked by the horrorshow from David Brooks yesterday. In case you missed THAT, see next two links.

Bigfoot no like Edward Snowden Michael Smith (Carol B)

David Brooks: The Last Stalinist Corey Robin (Charles LeSeau)

N.S.A. Disclosures Put Awkward Light on Previous Denials New York Times. Hahaha.

Surveillance scandal signals a creeping police state Bangkok Post

Europe warns US: you must respect the privacy of our citizens Guardian

US preparing to charge Snowden in NSA leak – report RT

The Section 215 Dragnet Started as Abusive Exigent Letter Practice Wound Down Marcy Wheeler

Here’s the ACLU’s Lawsuit on NSA Surveillance Mother Jones

Where’s the outrage over private snooping? Cathy O’Neil

Edward Snowden not safe in Hong Kong, warns human rights chief Guardian

Philadelphia launches assault on public education with school closings and layoffs Daily Kos (Carol B)

Grandmother says she watched officer shoot girl, 7 Associated Press (Lambert). Eeek

License, registration and cell phone: Bill would let N.J. cops search phones after crashes

Daley forms committee to explore run for governor Associated Press

Health Care’s Overlooked Cost Factor New York Times

JPMorgan’s Dimon Says There Was No Lying, Hiding on Whale Bloomberg. The fact that Dimon would try a howler like this in the wake of the Senate hearing is more proof of his complete disconnect with reality. At least Steve Jobs had a reality distortion sphere that worked on third parties. Someone needs to clue Dimon in that he not even remotely in the same league.

Bullard Holds His Ground Tim Duy. Bullard sees the low/falling inflation rate as a sign it’s too early to dial back QE. By contrast, his colleagues at the Fed seem to think that the job numbers are improving enough to start thinking re exit (we’ve noted they are going through some hoops to reach that conclusion, as in backing “fiscal drag” or the effect of the sequester, out. Huh?). This is a form of confirmation bias. The Fed also suffered from that in the runup to the crisis, in that they refused to consider data that suggested their policies weren’t producing the desired effects.

The overstated inflation danger Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Massive real wage cuts will not improve growth prospects Bill Mitchell

Here’s What Happened When 8,000 Pairs Of Equally Qualified Whites And Minorities Went House Hunting Clusterstock

Tire Rentals Bob Lawless, Credit Slips

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Richard Kline

    Regarding a putative ‘coffee crunch’: A genetically homogenous, heat sensitive, shade dependent varietal grown in packed, shadeless, fungicide-additicted plantations in the hottest coffee-producing region which is certain to become hotter still, what could go wrong? The situation in Central America is a case study in how NOT to produce arabica coffee for long-term viability.

    For those employeed in Central America cropping coffee, this is doomful, but for coffee production, not so much, though price is rue to be impacted. Coffee rust is pandemic there this season, but other major coffee producting regions—Indonesia, Papua, Africa—are unaffected. Africa has a huge array of coffee varietals in the wild not even cultivated now, as the article points out. If climate change threatens the viability of cropping coffee in Central America, it also holds potential to make territories previously not utilized for the crop productive in other regions. One of the stories of climate change, which we will live through, is not simply how things end with said change but how they begin, too. Climate change is bad . . . but we’ve baked it into our pebble-pie, so we’re going to have to eat it and grin, if we can.

    1. George Hier

      “Doomful” is now my new favorite word. It fills a hole in my life that I never knew was there before.

      I’m sorry, forgive my disgression. I just like new vocabulary.

      1. jrs

        Doesn’t sun grown coffee contribute to the destruction of rain forests and thus to global warming? So the coffee industry is now a victim of …. suicide? Everyone who drinks coffee – seek out shade grown stuff.

    2. Dikaios Logos

      All great points. And Central America is only ~15% of worldwide production.

      I’d add that the Wired piece, along with much of the propaganda about coffee you see in English, plays up the paradigm of coffea arabica=good, coffee canephora (robusta)=bad. This is simply not true. Robusta coffees are essential to most espresso cultures (e.g. Italy) and much more disease resistant and durable.

      What I’ve long wondered is if the propaganda about arabica coffee being supremely better than robusta, which is a standard line for the Starbucks of the world and other ‘specialty’ coffees, at least in the English speaking world, isn’t something of a ploy. The Latin debt crisis and the emergence of ‘specialty coffee’ are roughly coincident. I wonder if pushing this monoculture wasn’t an attempt at dealing with the debt crisis. Can’t prove it, but isn’t implausible.

        1. LucyLulu

          I know what you mean and I don’t like Starbucks coffee either. I believe they tend to use dark roasts and that’s what gives it the bitter taste. That being said, the best coffee in the world, IMHO, is freshly ground authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain, grown only in a very small region of Jamaica. It is very smooth tasting. I hope it doesn’t become infected with the disease.

          1. optimader

            taste is just one of those fickle things.

            Starbucks chooses to roast dark, it’s an acquired taste apparently. Some like it some don’t, I think its OK, and they have been quite successful, so apparently some people persistently like it. One thing for sure, SB has done an excellent job in making their product to a uniform taste, not such an easy thing at the scale they operate at.

            As for me, I roast my own coffee and that Is the only way to go if you really like coffee. Different coffees different roasts, its all organic chemistry, how the various oils pyrolysize and crack.
            Jamaican Blue Mountain, great stuff, for me the ($/satisfaction) ratio is a bit top heavy. Diminishing returns if you don’t roast it yourself and use it up in abt ~7 days form roasting. The good thing is green coffee beans last a looong time if properly stored.

            My own inclination is a Peaberry, the 5% genetic mutant beans in the coffee crops.
            Most peaberry crops are presold to distributors that service higher end hospitality providers (restaurants hotels) and its usually cut in w/ different beans. Kinda like blending wines. You can buy the beans green.

            IMO peaberries are the best overall flavor balance, low acid and naturally low in caffeine (comparatively) so I can drink it all day w/out the delirium tremors (on the other hand DT is one of my favorite beers)

            Go figure..

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If I may put in a few kind words for matech green tea.

            It’s a lot nutritional than coffer and regular tea. With matcha green tea in powder form, compared to the latter, you get to take in the whole tea leave.

          3. Kurt Sperry

            Yes, robusta is commonly used in Italian coffee blends but the Italians almost invariably sugar their coffee. Personally I love it unsugared but to take it that way will be thought strange in places where they don’t see many tourists.

          4. optimader

            “If I may put in a few kind words for matech green tea.”
            Beef, I see that is what is used in green tea ice cream, never actually had the tea, I have a great Asian market nearby I’ll have to snag some, always up for a new beverage.

            My tea of choice

            Should be in any In any Greek grocery store, alternatively available online for those in the hinterlands . This is great stuff. I brew it by the gallon w/ ginger and add honey and lemon to taste. great in the summer time, no tannins or caffeine. If you search on the health benefits, it’s a chemistry lab of goodies

        2. skylark

          Gee, I always thought Starbucks threw in a handful of bark mulch when they were brewing their coffee.

        3. Dikaios Logos

          Not exactly. Starbucks’ coffee tastes burnt because it is burnt. Starbucks is the child of a SF firm called Peet’s. Alfred Peet ‘improved’ the quality of coffee in the U.S. by roasting it darker. This had advantages: it hides coffee’s defects (i.e. it makes quality control easier) and differentiates coffee.

          Starbucks and other specialty firms used marketing around “pure arabica coffee” to justify changing a premium. Coffee for centuries has been “pure arabica”, nothing really special there. Even today, about 75% of coffee is arabica. Pure arabica isn’t necessarily better and in some cases it is worse. For espresso pure arabica is often undrinkable (note to those in coffee: I know about Brazils, and arabica naturals) unless it is roasted until it is burnt.

          My real interest in the marketing hype around “pure arabica'” coffee is that the other major species of coffee, coffea canephora aka robusta, is traditionally mostly from either 1) French speaking countries or 2) countries that have had communist governments. But coffee from the Spanish speaking world is almost universally arabica. I think given monied interests in the U.S., pushing arabica as always the best coffes might have dubious reasonst. And seeing the near monoculture of the 4-5 arabica varieties get this fungus makes me a little angry that these interests have pushed this view.

          1. Tiresias

            I’ve never set foot in a Starbucks in my life and am perfectly happy for coffee with the floor sweepings that end up in foil packaged under generic brands, but the intimation above that Starbucks has adopted Ford’s approach (“You can have any colour as long as it’s black”) surprises me. The coffee house I do occasionally use offers a wide variety of beans from many locations in various stages of cookedness in a bewildering range of production and presentation requiring the dedicated talents of a certificated barista dancing attendance on a whistling, hissing, bubbling piece of technology resembling a cross between a steam locomotive and a concert hall organ. I had assumed from its reputation that Starbucks would manage all that with bells on.

    3. charles sereno

      Hope you all are not averse to yet another old codger tale. When I was a kid in Hawaii (’30s), Kona coffee was cheaper than Hills Bros. Aspirational locals (pace Starbucks) turned their noses up at the domestic brew. “It’s too coarse. It doesn’t even come in a can.” At $25/lb today for pure Kona coffee, I cry.

      1. craazyman

        that’s interesting.

        reminds me of a travelogue I read by a guy who sailed a small sailboat through the Carribean.

        he said the up-and-coming locals would turn their nose up at fresh local foods in favor of western canned foods, believing these were more “prestigious” and that their purchase and use conferred a certain transcendence upon them from their local identity as natives.

      2. optimader

        Yes, I love Kona as well, bu tit is expensive right now, They have had a bad crop yield a couple years going, but there are other excellent alternatives.
        Odd story on the Hills bros, as that is historically amongst the worst coffee sold. I don’t think SB has an issue w/ Kona, presumably just too small a crop to deal with commercially.

        From my supplier:

        “New 2013 crop!

        We had to change it up a little this year, but it is as tasty as ever!

        Hawaiian had a tough 2013 crop that is just rolling out, up to 60% smaller crop than last year. (third year in a row with a down crop)

        Maui Kaanpali Estate is a unique Hawaiian coffee. The beans are grown by MauiGrown Coffee at Ka‘anapali Estate in the West Maui highlands.

        The 500-acre estate is a former State/private project that used coffee to diversify Maui’s sugar plantations. It performed extensive field trials to find Arabicas that grow best in the soil, altitude and climate, while providing the best cup quality and yields. MauiGrown grows the 4 best Arabica types from those field trials: Maui Mokka, Yellow Caturra, Red Catuai and Guatemalan Typica.

        BCT Maui Kaanapali Estate is an exclusive blend fashioned from two of MauiGrown’s flagship coffees, Natural Catuai and washed Catuai. The Catuai natural beans bring very fine aroma and a clean, sweet cup that’s very mellow and low in acidity.

        At every roast level, BCT Maui Kaanapali Estate beans offer great consistency in the cup – they are uniquely tailored to give home roasters a true Island coffee experience in cup after satisfying cup – easy roasting beans with rich, aromatic, mellow flavor! At light and medium roasts, these beans deliver excellent aroma and an agreeably mellow, low acid cup. Darker roasts deliver more sweetness and body, with a subtle spicy character.”

        1. charles sereno

          I hope your supplier is more careful with its products than its spelling. “Kaanpali” is dead wrong; “Kaanapali” better; why not “Ka’anapali” out of respect for the language and a more informative rendition for non-natives?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With respect to tea, one might think cha is a more authentic pronunciation than tea, assuming the modern Mandarin has always been the dialect spoken by the Central Plain Han people.

            In fact, tea, derived from the Amoy dialect t’e may be closer to the Middle Chinese spoken in the Tang dynasty when Lu Yu’s the Book of Tea was written.

            So, I would think it’s more respectful and less trying-to-be-too-cute to say tea, instead of cha or chai.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks for the Tisane tip.

            The way your prepare your Tisane sounds a lot like the way they used to make tea a long, long time ago, when they prepared tea like they were making soup – they threw in ginger, salt, etc.

            Then, during the Song dynasty, they started to drink whisked tea, the way it is done in Japanese Tea Ceremony.

            It was not until the Ming dynasty that they started to drink fermented tea by steeping it in hot water. This is the way familiar to us today.

  2. Cletus

    If exra-regional movement of crop production takes place on a global scale, the last thing we’ll be worried about is coffee.

    1. optimader

      One of the first things I’ll worry about.. time to be bunkering in in Nitrogen purged Mylar sacks?? Maybe not quite yet

    1. Jim Haygood

      One hopes that Eric Holder someday will have the opportunity to quote ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards:

      ‘I will be a model prisoner, as I have been a model citizen.’

  3. Ned Ludd

    Josh Marshall, in a post on Snowden and Manning, explains how he views the military and state power:

    [I]f you basically identify with the country and the state, then indiscriminate leaks like this are purely destructive. They’re attacks on something you fundamentally believe in, identify with, think is working on your behalf. […]

    Let me put my cards on the table. At the end of the day, for all its faults, the US military is the armed force of a political community I identify with and a government I support… I think a military force requires a substantial amount of secrecy to operate in any reasonable way.

    Fred DeBoer responds:

    Meanwhile, those who are not among the elect fear and distrust authority, because it daily oppresses them. This fear and distrust is as rational as a thing can be, but Marshall cannot bring himself to believe in it.

    Marshall has that in common with Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Cohen, and David Brooks: no reason to fear the police state. Why should they? They are, all of them, American aristocrats: white, male, rich, and properly deferential to anyone with a title or a badge or authority or an office. Of course they don’t know why anyone would worry about limitless surveillance. They themselves have nothing to fear because they are the overclass. They can’t imagine what it might be like to be Muslim or black or poor or to have any other characteristic that removes them from the ranks of the assumed blameless.

    “I have nothing to fear,” is simply another way to say, “The state will never target me.”

    1. from Mexico

      The Bolsheviks from the beginning endowed the secret police with the exercise of supreme power…

      It is because of the essential affinity between the functioning of a secret society of conspirators and of the secret police organized to combat it that totalitarian regimes, based on a fiction of global conspiracy and aiming at global rule, eventually concentrate all power in the hands of the police….

      [T]he history of the Bolshevik party offers a better illustration of the essentially fictitious character of totalitarianism, precisely because the fictitious global conspiracies against and according to which the Bolshevik conspiracy is supposedly organized have not been ideologically fixed. They have changed — from the Trotskyites to the 300 families, then to various “imperialisms” and recently to “rootless cosmopolitanism” — and were adjusted to passing needs: yet at no moment and under none of the most various circumstances has it been possible for Bolshevism to do without some such fiction….

      The struggle for total domination of the total population of the earth…is inherent in the totalitarian regimes themselves; if they do not pursue global rule as their ultimate goal, they are only too likely to lose whatever power they have already seized… Totalitarianism in power uses the state administration for its long-range goal of world conquest and for the direction of the branches of the movement; it establishes the secret police as the executors and guardians of its domestic experiment in constantly transforming reality into fiction….

      The chief value [of the secret police] is in their unsurpassed capacity to establish and safeguard the fictitious world through consistent lying….

      [Stalin’s] chief support in the succession struggle after Lenin’s death came from the secret police which at that time had already become one of the most important and powerful sections of the party….

      The Bolshevik government then proceeded to the liquidation of the classes and started, for ideological and propaganda reasons, with the property-owning classes, the new middle class in the cities, and the peasants in the country…

      The next class to be liquidated as a group were the workers….

      On top of these measures came the liquidation of that bureaucracy which had helped to carry out the previous liquidation measures…. And since this general purge ended with the liquidation of the highest police officials — the same who had organized the general purge in the first place — not even the cadres of the GPU which had carried out the terror could any longer delude themselves that as a group they represented anything at all, let alone power.

      –HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

        1. from Mexico

          I agree. When it comes to calling out the strange Bolshevik/Nazi curse that has engulfed the United States, that article is about as good as it gets.

          Thomas Drake said:

          When I was in the US air force, flying an RC-135 in the latter years of the cold war, I was a German-Russian crypto-linguist. We called ourselves the “vacuum-cleaner of the sky” because our capability to gather information was enormous at the time. But it was always outward-facing; we could not collect on US targets because that was against the law. To the US government today, however, we are all foreigners.

          Just to flesh that out a little bit better:

          With secret societies, the totalitarian movements also share the dichotomous division of the world between “sworn blood brothers” and an indistinct inarticulate mass of sworn enemies. This distinction, based on absolute hostility to the surrounding world, is very different from the ordinary parties’ tendency to divide people into those who belong and those who don’t. 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.”

          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 looses 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….

          So long as the movement exists, its peculiar form of organization makes sure that at least the elite formations…still feel superior to the rest of the uninitiated world.

          –HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

          As the totalitarian pathology progresses, the circle of “sworn blood brothers” becomes increasingly smaller:

          Confidence in the military has found further expression in a tendency to elevate the soldier to the status of national icon, the apotheosis of all that is great and good about contemporary America. The men and women of the armed services, gushed Newsweek in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, “looked like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. They were young, confident, and hardworking, and they went about their business with poise and élan.” A writer for Rolling Stone reported after a more recent and extended immersion in military life that “the Army was not the awful thing that my [anti-military] father had imagined”; it was instead “the sort of America he always pictured when he explained…his best hopes for the country.” According to the old post-Vietnam-era political correctness, the armed services had been a refuge for louts and mediocrities who probably couldn’t make it in the real world. By the turn of the twenty-first century a different view had taken hold. Now the United States military was “a place where everyone tried their hardest. A place where everybody…looked out for each other. A place where people – intelligent, talented people – said honestly that money wasn’t what drove them. A place where people spoke openly about their feelings.” Soldiers, it turned out, were not only more virtuous than the rest of us, but also more sensitive and even happier. Contemplating the GIs advancing on Baghdad in March 2003, the classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson saw something more than soldiers in battle. He ascertained “transcendence at work.” According to Hanson, the armed services had “somehow distilled from the rest of s an elite cohort” in which virtues cherished by earlier generations of Americans continued to flourish.

          Soldiers have tended to concur with this evaluation of their own moral superiority. In a 2003 survey of military personnel, “two-thirds [of those polled] said they think military members have higher moral standards than the nation they serve…. Once in the military, many said, members are wrapped in a culture that values honor and morality.” Such attitudes leave even some senior officers more than a little uncomfortable. Noting with regret that “the armed forces are no longer representative of the people they serve,” retired admiral Stanley Arthus has expressed concern that “more and more, enlisted as well as officers are beginning to feel that they are special, better than the society they serve.” Such tendencies, concluded Arthur, are “not healthy in an armed force serving a democracy.”

          In public life today, paying homage to those in uniform has become obligatory and the one unforgiveable sin is to be found guilty of failing to “support the troops.” In the realm of partisan politics, the political Right has shown considerable skill in exploiting this dynamic, shamelessly pandering to the military itself and by extension to those members of the public laboring under the misconception, a residue from Vietnam, that the armed services are under siege from a rabidly anti-military Left.

          –ANDREW BACEVICH, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War

          1. Propertius

            Interesting that you quote Arendt. My first thought upon reading Brooks’s drivel was that his ideal “mediated man” would have been Eichmann: loyal, obedient, submissive, and dutiful to the bitter end.

        2. from Mexico

          Nothing to add to the following by Thomas Drake, but it is worth repeating, because one of the main arguments used against whilstleblowers, and I have had it flung at me ad nauseaum from the anti-Manning brigade, is to say that the whilstleblower could and should have followed the chain of command.

          I differed as a whistleblower to Snowden only in this respect: in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he’s been following this for years: he’s seen what’s happened to other whistleblowers like me.

          By following protocol, you get flagged – just for raising issues. You’re identified as someone they don’t like, someone not to be trusted. I was exposed early on because I was a material witness for two 9/11 congressional investigations. In closed testimony, I told them everything I knew – about Stellar Wind, billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and the critical intelligence, which the NSA had but did not disclose to other agencies, preventing vital action against known threats. If that intelligence had been shared, it may very well have prevented 9/11.
          But as I found out later, none of the material evidence I disclosed went into the official record. It became a state secret even to give information of this kind to the 9/11 investigation.

          1. Chris E.

            A good video from a few years back “10 Steps to Fascism (End of America)” by Naomi Wolf (not to be confused by the equally awesome Naomi Klein and her work such as Shock Doctrine):


            I remember when I first saw it, my political philosophy was much different at the time (fresh off grad school, great consulting job, supporter of national security state and corporatist policies) and I shrugged it all off. But since then we’ve seen the financial crisis, Obama, and things getting worse.

            Watching it now in light of the NSA story coming back, and after studying history and political science more deeply independently, it’s really hitting me hard. I still think it’s hyperbolic (End of America seems so cartoonish as a title) to an extent, it really isn’t that farfetched anymore. Daniel Ellsberg has also used the East German Stasi analogy that Wolf presents.

          2. Bill

            “the whilstleblower could and should have followed the chain of command.”

            Tell those people to talk to US military rape victims, to see where that takes whistleblowers.

            I worked for the US military as a civilian for the last 15 years of my career as a psychologist, and was a minor whistleblower on 2 occasions.

            The Chain of Command is put there to stomp out whistleblowing. That’s why we once had the Office of Special Counsel, to protect them from their CoC.

          3. LucyLulu

            The consensus among those familiar with the intelligence culture is that following “chain of command” doesn’t work within the intelligence community. William Binney was another NSA employee/whistleblower who reported waste/fraud on the DoD’s $4B ‘Trailblazer’ project but resigned in late 2001 after 32 years working for the NSA. The program he was working on, ‘Thin Thread’, which separated out foreign communications from domestic ones, had evolved into ‘President’s Surveillance Program’ after 9/11 and began including domestic surveillance. In 2007, he was subjected to a raid by guns-drawn FBI agents when he was suspected in the Drake leak. He spent the next three years fighting criminal charges before clearing his name. Due to repeated harassment and Constitutional violations, he chose to come forward with claims of domestic surveillance. From 2012 testimony in an EFF case:

            The NSA could have installed its intercept equipment at the fiber-optic cable landing stations. See Greg’s Cable Map, There are more than two dozen such sites on the U.S. Coasts where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If the NSA had taken that route, it would have been able to limit its interception of electronic communications to international/international and international/domestic communications and exclude domestic/domestic communications. Instead the NSA chose to put its intercept equipment at key junction points (for example Folsom Street) and probably throughout the nation, thereby giving itself access to purely domestic communications

            The sheer size of that capacity (use of 25 NARUS, each with ability to process 4×10^16 bytes/yr)* indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure (including Utah facility)* far exceeds the capacity necessary for the storage of discreet, targeted communications or even for the storage of the routing information from all electronic communications. The capacity of NSA’s planned infrastructure is consistent, as a mathematical matter (Binney did applied mathmetical analysis)*, with seizing both the routing information and the contents of all electronic communications.

            Binney also cites FBI director Mueller’s Congressional testimony in 2011 about the government’s capacity to link any future emails to past emails as a means to prevent further shootings like Fort Hood. He states the NSA could not link to past emails unless they existed already in a database.

            *parenthetical comment mine


      1. Jessica

        Josh Marshall should at least give a rat’s ass about his own readers if not about the rest of us.

      2. jrs

        no kidding it makes one rethink exactly who can and cannot be worked with in terms of political alliances. Obamabots may be the last people in the world you want to have your back.

        1. Massinissa

          Its getting to the point where I am *almost* more afraid of Obots than tea baggers. At least tea baggers TRY to have some kind of coherent morality, and try to pick leaders that fit that moral worldview.

          Obots are not looking for any kind of worldview, so much as they are wanting some kind of great leader. His morality or lack thereof is apparently besides the point. Obama could do next to ANYTHING and they would still follow him, even though many of the things Obama does is at odds with the professed worldview of most of his followers.

          Its quite frightening in a way.

    2. Jackrabbit

      I found this to be a decent summary and refutation of points made to justify continued pervasive surveillance:


      Mass Surveillance Has Been Going On For A Long Time And Is Nothing New
      … because the government has criminally trespassed on our privacy for years, we should not complain when we discover that the invasion was a bit more elaborate than we had originally suspected[?]. They are saying that because we allowed them to get away with taking an inch, we might as well allow them to get away with taking a mile. This is the logical fallacy of incrementalism, and tyrants use it in their arguments all the time.

      Despotism rarely establishes itself overnight. Rather, it slithers slowly into the midst of a society like a parasite, and carefully entrenches itself under our skin bit-by-bit so that we do not notice until it is buried so deep we fear removing it at all.

      … Past mistakes are not a license for future failures and future regrets, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to take something away from you.

      If You’re Not Talking To Terrorists, Then You Have Nothing To Worry About
      … First off, our Constitutional rights are not predicated on whether or not we are guilty of “terrorism”. Even a so-called terrorist is supposed to be protected under the Bill of Rights. The law is very clear, and this is not a negotiable position. Every American, regardless of government suspicion, has a right to privacy, and is protected from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. Period…

      …Trust That The Government Is Using The Surveillance Apparatus For Good
      … I’m sorry, but the Constitution was written exactly because governments are run by men, NOT benevolent gods, and men are notorious for abusing power. The Constitution exists because NO government can be trusted to act in a principled manner. We do not have to “trust” them because tight constitutional restrictions are in place to ensure that they aren’t given enough slack to become dangerous. When those restrictions are diminished, we get programs like PRISM…

      The checks and balances of due process and warrants are supposed to be absolutely public and transparent so that we can see, with our own eyes, that all is being handled justly and honorably. Mass surveillance in particular is an affront to the 4th Amendment because there is no conceivable way that warrants could ever be issued for the incredible volume of materials gathered, and therefore, there is no conceivable way that any legitimate judicial oversight is being enforced. Secret courts, secret charges, secret programs targeting entire subsections of the population, were expressly forbidden by the Founding Fathers as totalitarian in nature.

      Surveillance Programs Are Essential To The Safety Of The Public
      … In a race to spin the leak of PRISM, lawmakers and establishment shills have come out in droves to suggest that the secret surveillance state has “stopped terrorist attacks” and “saved lives”. Of course, because all the details of the program are classified, we’ll never see any proof that such claims are true. What a conundrum.

      … In the end, I couldn’t care less if PRISM stopped a terrorist act. The point is irrelevant. Our civil liberties are not subject to the supposed success of an unconstitutional government action. The promise of safety does not nullify our rights, nor does it give government capital to do whatever it pleases. ”

      See: Why the Surveillance State Must be Erased” (h/t ZeroHedge).


      In addition to the above, these points have been made that put the ‘terrorist threat’ into perspective:

      – The al-Queda threat has largely been neutralized (mostly before PRISM) and was never the existential threat that it was made out to be.

      – Hugh, I believe, pointed out that: more people die on our highways EVERY MONTH than died in the WTC attack (not to diminish the affront…)

      Yes, the government should have anti-terrorist programs, but does the threat – today – justify giving up our Constitutional rights?


      IMO The biggest problem is not so much how these programs are used TODAY , it is how they could be misused in the future. Obama, that fount of truth/sarc says these programs are only a minor infringement on our rights … for now.

    3. curlydan

      Damn, Ludd. Yesterday, I had to read Brooks, now today I’ve got to read Josh Marshall! :)

      I had to read it to get his “other” frame to the story (i.e. his if you like Snowden frame) to see if did anyone justice.

      Marshall said (for the other side): “If you see the state as essentially malevolent or a bad actor then really anything you can do to put a stick in its spokes is a good thing. Same if you think the conduct of US foreign policy is fundamentally a bad thing. Then opening up its books for the world to see is a good thing simply because it exposes it or damages it. It forces change on any number of levels.”

      Naturally, Marshall’s frame for the “other side” is total crap as far as I’ concerned. Look, Marshall, I’m incensed because I’m a f’ing American who believes in the Constitution and studied American history to know that we revolted in the first place due to an over-reaching executive. I want checks and balances not searches without warrants. I’m tired of executions/assassinations without so much of an indictment, much less a trial. And leave the AP alone. Kiss my a$$, Josh Marshall. Don’t frame me, and I won’t frame you!

    4. bobh

      I read the Josh Marshall post in which he declared his support, as a loyal and patriotic believer in American exceptionalism, for the NSA’s data collection program. It was sad, but consistent with a trend at TPM that has been going on for several years. The real culprit is the Obama presidency. When the new president began making it increasingly clear that he would do nothing to challenge the elites or the policies that benefit them, a split developed in the ranks of the people who had voted for Obama in 2008. Both sides of this split had been TPM readers, and this presented a serious editorial content problem for Josh and his plans to create a successful leftish, new-media business enterprise. He chose to go with the center/left Obama supporters, whose less ideological politics were based on blue team vs. red team loyalties and, during the 2012 election, anger at those who declined to embrace the lesser evil. This loyalist faction was probably a larger component of the divided TPM readership and was certainly much less likely to make trouble or migrate to other websites in the future. Now Marshall has created something called TPM Prime, an inner cirlce where Obama loyalists can reinforce their beliefs in a non-challenging environment. It’s just business.

    5. Doug Terpstra

      It’s interesting to compare Rev Martin Luther King’s view of conscientious whistleblowers to Jeffrey Toobin’s preemptive conviction of Edward Snowden.

      “One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King

      Of course Snowden is exposing not only an unjust law but massive criminality.

      Now compare that to the verdict and diagnosis of parapsychologist and pastiche attorney Jeffrey Toobin:

      Snowden is “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.”

      1. jrs

        Already I’ve heard the argument that Snowden isn’t really doing civil disobedience right because he fled the country. Yes and if you really believe your country has The RULE OF LAW that’s how you might choose to do civil disobedience (possibly true of the U.S. several decades ago). If you believe your country is a rogue police state it’s not. If you believe your country is a rogue police state where no punishment is off the table for a prominent enough dissident, you act accordingly.

    6. Lambert Strether

      The only differences between David Brooks and Josh Marshall: Twenty years, hipster glasses, stubble, and team jersey. The only way they know the difference between right and wrong is, if their guy does it, it’s right. Since Snowden doesn’t wear either team jersey, they both hate him.

  4. dearieme

    “Yowza, this has to set some sort of record in tackiness.” Aw, come on, Yves, it’s in Oz.

    1. AbyNormal

      “Brooks views himself as essentially metonymous with the United States of America, thus the attitude toward Snowden. I can’t believe you’re breaking up with me! You can’t break up with me! I’m breaking up with you!”

      thanks BD, i needed that!

    2. Klassy!

      Excellent. He really nails Brooks with this: This in turn gets folded into a frothy meringue of faddish neurobabble and pop psychology. The result is an odd chimera, a giddy atavistic technocratic utopian anachronist: a Benthamite Whig monarchist.
      I’ve always marvelled at the total incoherence of his views. He just makes no sense.
      The previous post there was great too– about the “high school dropout”.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Re: “Stalinist” Brooks—in the utterly predictable tarring of Snowden, paraphrasing the parapsychologist:

      He’s a momma’s boy, a loner (probably collects Star Wars kitsch), and … “living [a] technological [existence] in the fuzzy land between childhood … and adult family commitments”, he can’t even hold down a job! So Snowden is unable to perceive the “gently gradated authoritative structures” of a sophisticated thinker like Brooks, who can rationalize six impossible things before breakfast, in a world devoid of good and evil (except for Islamist terrists).

      Important new term for totalitarian apologists: “gently gradated authoritative structures”.

    4. anon y'mouse

      reading brooks has always seemed like the intellectual counterpart to eating dinner at McD’s.

      lots of word-filling, but no nutritional value.

      1. charles sereno

        For me, it’s like it’s time for a timeout. Once I convince myself that it would be counterproductive to hurl something heavy at my computer screen, I resume reading.

  5. Chris Engel

    “There are dozens of stories generated by the documents he provided, and we intend to pursue every last one of them,” Greenwald said.

    So, dozens more stories in weeks, months to come. I’m on the edge of my seat though wondering what will happen to Snowden (will he get disappeared, will he go into hiding, will he try to go somewhere else — did he think this through at all, etc.).

      1. diptherio

        Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that pretty much the whole world is now monitoring the movements of Edward Snowden? It struck me while listening to Democracy Now on Monday, hearing Amy Goodman say, “we have reports that Edward Snowden has left his hotel…” which itself sounds like it could be an NSA memo.

      2. from Mexico

        And notice how Bolshevism gets recast as national interest in the twisted minds of folks like Barak Obama, Diane Feinstein and Peter King:

        On Tuesday, one lawmaker told CNN’s AC360 that journalists tied to the leaks should also be prosecuted.

        “If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude,” said Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism.

        “There is an obligation both moral, but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security,” he said. “As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years a number of reporters who have been prosecuted under (the Espionage Act).”

        As for Snowden, King said there’s no doubt he should face charges.

        “I think what he’s done has been incredible damage to our country. It’s going to put American lives at risk,” he said.

        The congressman did not provide specific examples of how the leaked information damaged national security, but argued that it helps enemies of the United States.

        For folks like Obama, Feinstein and King, it’s all about national security and about “protecting” the nation against some greatly exaggerated “evil other” (the “global conspiracy” in Nazi-speak or Bolshevik-speak), which is mostly ficticious but which they themselves have nevertheless created. Things like democracy, visible government, liberty, freedom, and the Consitution must all be sacrificed on the altar of this make-believe global conspiracy.

        I found Michael Parenti’s comments in these videos very helpful in deciphering what Obama, Feinstein and King are up to:

        1. Chris E.

          It’s amazing how they claim out of both sides of the mouth that the leak is no big deal/we knew it all already, and simultaneously that it’s a treasonous act to expose the programs and that journalists and whistleblowers should be prosecuted. It makes no sense.

          It’s all a distraction from the issues of overclassification, over-surveillance, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability of institutions like FISA and the NSA in general.

          Once again, the lone voices in favor of civil liberties are Rand Paul/Cruz teabagger types on the right and those viewed as far-left on the Democrat side (although Wyde and Udall are hardly farleft of course).

          1. from Mexico

            Criminal and civil liability is based upon being able to demonstrate that an action caused palpable, material harm. Occam’s Razor applies, and speculation (e.g., “she cast an evil spell on me which caused me to get sick”) is not deemed causality in US jurisprudence, nor is spiritual harm deemed sufficient for the civil authorities to intervene.

            Anything which does not cause palpable and material harm, with the additional requirement that such causality can be demonstrated, remains in the private realm. As Thomas Jefferson put it in The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the seminal document which informed the US Constitution: “[I]t is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order”; or when he stated in his Notes on Virginia: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg.”

            As David Little explains:

            In employing this doctrine, Jefferson and Madison presupposed a crucial distinction of longstanding significance in the Western Christian tradition between what was called the “internal forum,” or conscience, and the “external forum,” or civil government. Accordingly, human beings were believed to be subject to “two laws” and “two governments” – one an inner law of the spirit, enforced by reason and reflection of the mind and heart; and the other, an outer law, enforced, finally, by the magistrate’s sword.
            –DAVID LITTLE, “Religion and Civil Virtue in America”

            Speech, with some exceptions such as screaming “fire” in a crowded theater or defamation and slander, is considered to be part of the private realm, the “internal forum.”

            With this in mind, it’s not difficult to see why folks like Obama, Feinstein and King get caught up in their Orwellian double-speak. It’s easy to make the charge, for instance, that Greenwald’s reporting (speech) harmed national security, making Americans less safe. But it’s much more difficult to back it up with an actual demonstration of causality. The claim thus boils down to nothing more than assertions based on speculation and imagination, not unlike charging “that witch uttered some words and it caused me to get sick.” And the claim cannot be disproved. So in this upside-down world of Obama, Feinstein, and King, the burden of proof has switched places. They don’t have to demonstrate guilt, but the accused has to demonstrate innocence, which of course is impossible given the nature of the accusations. The fact that their claim cannot be disproved, however, does not prevent professional liars like Obama, Feinstein and King from making it, and in the most grotesquely exaggerated way possible.

            If we take a look at what is actually harmed by Greenwald’s reporting, however, what we find is that it is the criminal security state. Since Obama, Feinstein and King are in the business of protecting this criminal state, they then must downplay the harm caused by Greenwald’s disclosures.

            So when it comes to whether Greenwald’s reporting harmed American security, it is asserted it did great harm. But when it comes to whether Greenwald’s reporting harmed the criminal security state, it is asserted the damage was minimal.

          2. optimader

            “Anything which does not cause palpable and material harm, with the additional requirement that such causality can be demonstrated, remains in the private realm..”

            It caused my program to be defunded so I was laid-off and and I lost my expense account?

            good post

          3. Propertius

            I would take Udall more seriously if he hadn’t voted for telecom immunity in the first place.

  6. contrabrooks

    David Brook’s job is to bait liberals. He does this by leaking the monsterous workings of his pea sized brain to the public twice a week. It sells papers and his employer is happy.

    Despite this, some responsible people worry that someone would take him seriously and therefore feel compelled to debunk and discredit the tissue of lies and malice that undergirds all of his columns.

    Better yet, ignore him and ignore the New York Times who employs him to irk you.

    1. from Mexico

      As Andrew Lobaczewski explains in Political Ponerology:

      Emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person’s mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the ‘golden mean’ between the truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method. If the counterfeit of the truth is the opposite of a moral truth, at the same time, it simultaneously represents an extreme paramoralism, and bears its peculiar suggestiveness.

      In “Behind the Selma March” Martin Luther King responds to the liars:

      I am concerned about this perversion of the facts and for the record would like to sketch in the background of the events leading to the confrontation of marchers and Alabama state troopers at Pettus Bridge in Selma…

      The goal of the demonstration in Selma, as elsewhere, is to dramatize the existence of injustice and to bring about the presence of justice by methods of nonviolence. Long years of experience indicate to us that Negroes can achieve this goal when four things occur:

      1) Nonviolent demonstrators go into the streets to exercise their constitutional rights.
      2) Racists resist by unleashing violence against them.
      3) Americans of conscience in the name of decency demand federal intervention and legislation.
      4) The administration, under mass pressure, initiates measures of immediate intervention and remedial legislation.

      The working out of this process has never been simple or tranquil. When nonviolent protests were countered by local authorities with harassment, intimidation, and brutality, the federal government has always first asked the Negro to desist and leave the streets, rather than bring pressure to bear on those who commit the criminal acts. We have always been compelled to reject vigorously such federal requests and have rather relied on our allies, the millions of Americans across the nation, to bring pressure on the federal government for protective action in our behalf. Our position has always been that there is a wrong and a right side to the question of full freedom and equality for millions of Negro Americans and that the federal government does not belong in the middle on this issue.

    2. Valissa

      True, but some liberals seem to enjoy being baited!

      Another approach is to make fun of the guy…

      Archetypally indicative photoshop job

      Archetypally indicative cartoon

      Yup, that too

      In his dreams he’s…

      View with caution (set down your drink)

    3. scraping_by

      The ‘Ignore him and he’ll go away’ approach may work in country clubs and nouvelle cuisine restaurants, but this is an entirely different context.

      Where your average bombast will blow and go, Brooks is a professional smoke blower and is working in the mass media. This is ‘The Message’, a reinterpretation of unavoidable facts. It will be repeated again and again. If this works, and it will work when thousands of blowhards repeat it, it will be repeated and expanded for further use. In any case, it will be repeated until it crowds out any shred of truth and thought.

      With a few replies, sent into the marketplace of ideas, Brook’s cocktail party psychoanalysis can be seen as hollow and lame as it is. He’s watching the definition of ‘Patriot’ slip away from the right-wing chickenhawks who’ve run it into the ground. Time to blow smoke.

      Replying to this kind of mind-poisoning is almost work, it’s true. But who said working made you less smart, less of an elite, less of one of the cool kids?

      1. jrs

        Yea you would think David Brooks would be too stupid for anyone to take seriously, but unfortunately that might not be true.

        “Replying to this kind of mind-poisoning is almost work, it’s true. But who said working made you less smart, less of an elite, less of one of the cool kids?”

        I don’t know, is the answer David Brooks.

        Shorter David Brooks: pull yourself up by your own bootstraps kids. The rich are that way because they are smarter and work harder and are more innovative than you. OMG someone got a high paying job without going through the proper blessed and vetted channels, obeying all the rules, and kissing the right as @#$ at just the right time. OMG.

  7. diptherio

    Skeptiles Podcast interviews Zakk Flash of Operation OK Relief: (his interview starts at about the 5 minute mark)

    I loves me an eloquent anarchist, especially one that is so gall-derned effective. The major aide agencies ignore the more “remote” (read Indian) communities, so the volunteerist anarchists step in and get it done.

    My Less Than Prime: you especially will enjoy this one, methinks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks, diptherio. I will check it out.

      By the way, I am more a Zenarchist…not much difference there, splitting hair really, I admit. Still, I try to keep things neat for those eavesdropping. You never know if someone is listening or reading out there…

      Distinguishing a small difference can make a big difference, as they say.

      ‘Your honor, the state is absolutely wrong to label my client that way. So, would you please throw out the case?’

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I like that and look forward to hearing about organizations like OP OK more often.

      1. Dan the Man

        Wow. That tpm article is lame and seems to lack any knowledge of Hong Kong laws concerning extradition and asylumn. The article seems to boil down to just ask the Chinese Communist Party to kick him out of the country or else send in special forces to get him.

        Here are some articles with quotes from Hong Kong legal expert Simon Young which are much better at describing the process.

        1. AbyNormal

          true the tpm piece is lite on HK and Beijing expedition law. Appreciate the links and im rereading them now.

          looks like it comes down to whether HK or Beijing spouts the ruling…

        2. AbyNormal

          Dan, it seems HK is not anymore ‘stable’ in their extradition laws, than we are…

          from your 1st link (scmp)
          “There are many cases of extradition from Hong Kong to the US, but one involving such political sensitivity is rare. There will be many legal issues to be tested,” Young said.

          Young also corrected a misconception that Hong Kong lacked a law comparable to the US Espionage Act, under which Snowden is likely to be charged. For an extradition request to succeed, Hong Kong would have to have an equivalent law. Young says the city’s Official Secrets Ordinance is the relevant law.

          Since the US and Hong Kong agreed an extradition treaty in 1998, 65 fugitives have been extradited there by Hong Kong, according to government figures.

          Beijing-loyalist lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says Snowden may find himself in a difficult position because of the extradition deal.

          “Perhaps he didn’t know,” she said. “It would be best if he left Hong Kong.”

          But James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party lawmaker and solicitor, said: “To ask Snowden to get out of here shows no regard for human rights.” To said Hong Kong was “the best place” in the region for Snowden to argue his case, due to its strong rule of law and independent judiciary.

          The Fugitive Offenders Ordinance requires Hong Kong’s chief executive to comply with instructions from Beijing if failure to act on the instruction would “significantly affect” China’s defence or foreign affairs interests.

          Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu says it is “unlikely” Beijing will make Hong Kong deport Snowden: “Sino-US relations are not good enough for Beijing to again provoke Hong Kong people, who take freedom and rule of law to heart.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t know about Hong Kong or China, but I believe the Nobel Peace Prize committee is not so anti-America as to award its prize to Manning or Snowdon.

  8. docG

    I’m still scratching my head over this whole NSA vs. Snowden business. I really don’t know what to make of it and I’m wondering why so many have made up their minds so soon as to what it means, one way or the other, on the basis of so little information. I’m sorry but what I’m seeing from just about every quarter are classic “knee-jerk” responses, based essentially on what people want to believe rather than a critical assessment of the (very few) facts currently available to the public. As far as I’m concerned, there are still some really important questions to be asked, so at this point I must confess: I’m puzzled.

    One of the oddest aspects of this whole affair is the role of the private sector, which has largely been ignored. If we’re so up-in-arms over government access to our phone and email records, why aren’t we even more upset over the fact that companies like Verizon, Google and Facebook have already had precisely the same access for many years?

    Of all the many comments on this topic, the only one that makes perfect sense to me is the Mathbabe post linked to above. Here’s a good sample of what Ms. O’Neil has to say:

    “What gets to me are the countless articles that make a big deal of Facebook or Google sharing private information directly with the government, while never mentioning that Acxiom buys and sells from Facebook on a daily basis much more specific and potentially damning information about people (most people in this country) than the metadata that the government purports to have.

    Of course, we really don’t have any idea what the government has or doesn’t have. Let’s assume they are also an Acxiom customer, for that matter, which stands to reason.

    It begs the question, at least to me, of why we distrust the government with our private data but we trust private companies with our private data.”

    At last, someone with something sensible to say on this topic!

    1. craazyman

      Ummm . . . . Axciom can’t charge you in criminal court, prosecute you, ruin you financially, and throw you in jail, if not render you like a flayed ox on a cross with nails through your hands, cruficified upside down like Paul himself — whether you did anything wrong or not.

      Acxiom can try to sell you that vacation in Vermont since you googled “hiking Vermont trails”.

      I think that’s a not-too-trivial difference between the two. I don’t know what Mathbabe is thinking there.

      Having said that, I agree with the confusion about all this. I’m still not entirely clear on just what the govermint did, but I know for sure it smells like dogshit on a July afternoon. Mabye it’s cause I don’t trust any of these people, after years of neoliberal fraud, financial repression and general abuse of human economic rights.

      Weird to me that a liberal icon like Senator Al Franken didn’t seem too upset about it. I saw that on Drudge yesterday.

      1. jrs

        Yea, they can try to sell you junk that you don’t need, that you mostly stopped buying years ago, when you realized the economic system didn’t give a cr@p about you and that you wanted as little to do with it as possible. And so: uh MASSIVE FAIL!

        But the scary thing isn’t just that the government knows, and the government has the power to harm, and crush revolt, but also that the government goes after those that make us aware that the government knows.

      1. docg

        Yeah, I admit it, I’m the Devil incarnate. Just like my pal, Obama. I have this nutty idea that governments should be expected to — well, govern.

      1. charles sereno

        “As far as I’m concerned, there are still some really important questions to be asked, so at this point I must confess: I’m puzzled.” (docG)
        Oops, I’m puzzled as well. I’m wondering why some really important questions haven’t been answered.

    2. Skeptic

      So, what constitutes a troll exactly?

      What is trollish about DocG’s post?

      1) this is the links section and there are links about Snowden so docg is not off-topic.

      2) nothing docg said was inflammatory unless you’re a super fanboy of a person NONE OF YOU HAVE EVER MET and who worked/s for US intelligence agencies and who is now in the public domain so can be commented on however one pleases.

      3) it’d be one thing to yell at docg if he were calling a Snowden a traitor but all he’s saying is SLOW DOWN and that constitutes “trolling”? Or is it that it goes against the grain of the media tsunami that upsets people so much?

      Why is this man who know of you know ANYTHING about so important that you feel the need to rush to his defence?

      Calling Snowden a traitor is acceptable b/c that’s within the defined media narrative but calling into question Snowden himself is out-of-bounds?


      1. AbyNormal

        DocG endears a history of BS at NC…you post like your competing for his @ss-crown.

        “There are four kinds of people to avoid in the world: the @ssholes, the @sswipes, the @ss-kissers, and those that just will sh!t all over you.”

      2. Skeptic

        I really wish I could fall in love as quickly as the Snowden fanboys demonstrated on this site who apparently have never been given information that they’ve wanted to hear before from the government.

        So, our hero’s just waltzing around HK, leaving hotels, giving interviews…all b/c TPTB are just so f*cking terrified of him, right?

        Right, he has the intelligence agencies in a huge bind or something because even though Snowden apparently COULD HAVE just stolen and dumped a whole bunch of critical data about how specifically the war-criminal intelligence agencies are actively oppressing/murdering people around the globe – i.e., thrown a true monkey wrench in day-to-day operations of Murder, Inc. – he decides to ponder – for months – some high-level .ppt slides which he then hands over to the MSM ensuring that we only get to see 5 of the 41 of them and which merely confirm – again – what everyone already basically knew, huh?

        And no one in the intelligence apparatus got hurt or was damaged by said info.

        How convenienly genius.

        What’s not to like?

        It appears that the right mixture of Tor/EFF bumperstickers, Ron Paul contributions and slacker/outsider/anti-establishment demeanor – yet, articulate, mind you! – has been found so that those on both the “left” and “right” of a certain demographic can all agree:

        (Geeks, sportos, motorheads, dweebs, dorks, sluts, buttheads…they all adore him.)

        They think he’s [Edward Snowden] a righteous dude.

        Cue the music, boys:

        Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi
        I’m the cult of personality
        The cult of personality
        The cult of personality

        1. optimader


          You have a great angst regarding Snowden/Manning and from what I gather consider them traitors because they were in the employ of agencies of Government that you explicitly despise, then took the opportunity to expose classified information confirming unconstitutional /immoral Government policy/behavior of a nature that you also allege to also despise?
          Yet you seem to imply that the motives of at least one of them is a disingenuous, perhaps is part of a larger conspiracy (with whom??), and then seamlessly denigrate the value of the revealed information because it is “stale”(?) in spite of the fact that in both cases the information had never been revealed or confirmed publically.

          Further, anyone that is grateful for the information being put into the public domain, where it legitimately should be to begin with, somehow is being duped by these two individual because it has yet to be determined what their true ulterior motives are!

          Is that decent ongoing summary of your position? Did I leave anything out?

          Oh yeah,, 9/11!!!

          cognitive dissonance
          noun: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

        2. charles sereno

          Skeptic asks, “So, what constitutes a troll exactly?” I’m the first to admit I’m no good at definitions, but I do have feelings and I hope this helps:

          How do I scorn thee? Let me count the ways.
          I scorn thee to the depth and breadth and height
          My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
          For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
          I scorn thee to the level of everyday’s
          Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
          I scorn thee freely, as men strive for Right;
          I scorn thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
          I scorn thee with a passion put to use
          In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
          I scorn thee with a scorn I seemed to lose
          With my lost saints, — I scorn thee with the breath,
          Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
          I shall but scorn thee better after death.

          1. AbyNormal

            Charm is always genuine; it may be superficial but it isn’t false.
            p.d.james, the children of men
            ‘ ))

      3. docg

        No mystery there, my fellow Skeptic. If you can’t go along with the herd, you’re a troll. Especially on this site, sadly.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The troll designation is based on behavior, not content. Skeptic fits the bill to a T. Ad hominem argumentation, plus disrespectful, prolix, and thinks outyelling his opponents is tantamount to winning an argument.

    3. Jackrabbit

      You can choose NOT to use internet or telecom services. You can’t choose or opt-out of NSA surveillance.

      It all seems so innocuous today. What’s the big deal? But that can change quickly. Many Germans welcomed Hitler.

      What other rights are you willing to part with? Pervasive surveillance likely ends Freedom of the Press. That’s OK too?

      At _some_ point there is no debate – because questioning authority is not tolerated. Is that the kind of society you want to have?

      1. docg

        It’s naive in the extreme to claim I can choose to opt out of Verizon, because no, I’m not willing to do without phone service — or DSL for that matter. And believe me, I tried opting out of Facebook — to no avail, they are relentless! There’s no point in being on the Internet if I can’t use Google, and without Microsoft I wouldn’t have a computer and I’d have no access at all to what for me have become essential services.

        You are seeing the problem from the wrong end of the telescope. This still is a Democracy (though admittedly an endangered one), I still get to vote for the President, and my representatives in Congress, and, in case you haven’t noticed, Congress has been unusually aggressive these days in monitoring the activities of the White House, and we have a Supreme Court that’s been especially effective in that regard for some time. By comparison, the activities of Verizon, etc. get relatively little Congressional or Judicial attention. Or for that matter the banksters we’re always complaining about.

        There are theoretically checks and balances in place that are supposed to prevent either the administration or its national security arm from abusing its power. And the question I have at this point is whether or not those checks and balances are still working as they should or whether the system has gotten out of control. Snowden’s actions have thrown this issue into sharp relief and I’m interested to learn whether or not his allegations can be substantiated. If so, then I agree there is something seriously wrong that needs to be corrected.

        But where are the checks and balances holding these media giants to account? If access to Verizon gives NSA access to the private communicatons of private citizens, then what’s to prevent someone from Verizon from abusing that privilege?
        So that too is something that needs looking into, because if that actually is the case, then it’s not an excess of govt. oversight, but too little govt. oversight we should be concerned with.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Trollish BS

          Oh, I don’t want to be inconvenienced…we still live in a Democracy…maybe we have too little government!

          Stop wasting our time.

    4. optimader

      DocG ..
      didn’t get to far into that post as it seems like you have bees in your head.

      So an analogy, say you went to your… Doc and he told you “yes, that spot is skin cancer”.

      Would you be scratching your head and unsure what to do about it because there is so little information? or would you have it cut off?

      If you cant differentiate between a citizen in a mutually consenting interaction using a commercial product, say google or amazon and a govmt entity unilaterally scooping up all of your electronic communications w/ no consent and retaining it forever, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want you as my Doc.

      1. docg

        You’re not getting it. If this info is available to just about anyone employed by Verizon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc., then it is already out there! So what’s the big deal if the government has access to it as well?

        Sorry, but I didn’t vote for any of the people running any of these “free enterprises,” nor was I involved in hiring any of their employees. If an agreement with Verizon makes it possible for anyone at NSA to listen in on all our phone calls, then what’s to prevent some executive at Verizon from doing the same thing? The only difference I can see is that the NSA guy has to get a court order and the Verizon guy doesn’t.

        And if this sounds a little crazy to you, I can understand, because it sounds crazy to me too. Which is why I’ve decided to wait until I’ve learned more about the details before rushing to judgement.

        1. curlydan

          Do Verizon et al look at call patterns? Yes. Can they issue a warrant or subpeona if they see you’ve talked to a certain person? No. Can Verizon combine their data with the data of any other company/service provider/social network/judicial database/fingerprint/DNA test results to find every piece of information and history on them? No, they can’t although they’d probably like to. The NSA and govt can do this, and as we’ve seen in the AP/Fox News stories, they are digging deep and hard into people’s lives.

          All Verizon wants is your money now and more money later to help their EPS. We know that. They know that.

          The government wants are much more varied and can wreak havoc on anyone’s life at any time for any purpose. Also, if Verizon chose to ruin someone’s life based on inside “network” knowledge, they can’t hide behind “national security”, “state secrets”, and cowering judges. They’re on the line in terms of reputation and profit.

          1. docg

            What you are calling the “government” operates under legally sanctioned constraints and cannot just do whatever they’d like to do with any of the info they collect. The real question is whether these constraints have been violated. You, like so many here, are assuming that’s the case. But I see no reason to make such an assumption, not as yet, anyhow.

            Believe me, there are plenty Tea Partiers out there who would love to see this blow up in Obama’s face, and you know what? They will get their chance. I’m eager to see how this plays out, and if Obama or anyone else in his administration overstepped legal bounds, they are going to get nailed, believe me. So worry not. If it’s as bad as you think it is, then it will certainly be stopped in its tracks. For now. But in the long run, after the Tea Party had taken over our government, and totally shredded ALL our rights, you might think differently.

          2. optimader

            “What you are calling the “government” operates under legally sanctioned constraints and cannot just do whatever”

            So far I am just assuming you are tragically misinformed.

            1.) The FISA court authorizes intelligence operations against U.S. citizens on American soil.
            2.) FISA opinions are classified.
            3.) QED, FISA can indeed authorize whatever it wants in the context of “national security”

            So, Doc, provide a clicky that outlines the “legally sanctioned constraints”.

        2. Jackrabbit

          DocG, YOU are not getting it. Please read my comment above.

          If the info is readily available commercially, then why the secrecy? Why did Clapper lie to Congress?

          How long does a commercial company keep data? 6 months? The Government wants to keep info about you for a hundred years or more.

          They don’t want to know who you talked to yesterday, they want to know what you are thinking and how you came to be the person you are today.

          What are the risks? Imagine that they automate such psychological profiling. Your loved one goes missing. Is it foul play or did some program determine that he or she should be rendered to Guantanamo? You may never know.

          What they are doing adverse to a free, democratic society. And the further along they get, the more difficult it will be to stop it, regulate it, or even debate it.

          1. Jackrabbit

            Of course TODAY we are told that the info collected is safe-guarded (Warrants, over-sight, etc.) and used for a limited purpose. (Note: Snowden says the info can already be misused.)

            But the danger of misuse is on-going. And as our rights are encroached upon again and again, the danger of misuse grows.

          2. Jackrabbit

            The Verizon meta-data collection is just one of many data collection programs.

            We now know that it is not just Verizon but other major telecoms and info from internet companies as well.

            We are being told from Snowden and others that the data collection includes even more than that and will be held for 100 years or more.

          3. docg

            A lot of what I’m hearing on this blog sounds really paranoid to me. And what’s’ worse, it sounds awfully Tea Party, with a huge pinch of Ron Paul, alias Ayn Rand. I’ve been arguing for years that all we have between us and raving lunatic fascism, owned and operated by the most vicious bigots of the 1%, is BIG GOVERNMENT. If you don’t like it, then by all means sign up to the Ron Paul agenda (Mr. Snowden did), and get ready to hand over ALL your civil rights, big time.

            Sure, some in government can be corrupt. Sure, Obama is floundering, and has become a huge disappointment. He is NOT the devil incarnate, however, though that seems the prevailing notion on this blog for some strange reason. (Paranoia again, I’m afraid, which is a shame.)

            What most of you are describing is a worst case scenario of a monolithic government, ruthless and out of control. Sorry, but that’s NOT what I see. I see a deeply divided government, reflecting a deeply divided nation. And as embarrassing as that can be, it’s a sign that we are still a democracy of some sort, and NOT a dictatorship. And if you see Obama as a dictator, then my oh my, head for the optometrist, because you need to get your glasses fixed.

            You are assuming the worst, and making snap judgements on that basis, whereas there is, as yet, no clear reason to believe this is anything other than an embarrassing screwup. If in fact it does turn out that the administration and/or the security people have in fact subverted the checks and balances built in by congress, and are in fact spying on the people of this country in the manner alleged by Snowden, then maybe we have reason to be paranoid. Maybe Obama should be impeached. I’d have no problem with that if the allegations are true. At this point, however, all we have is the word of one individual.

            So sorry, I suggest we all calm down until we actually have some facts before us.

          4. Jackrabbit

            This blog…really paranoid…Tea Party, etc.
            equivalence bullsh!t

            BIG GOVERNMENT protects us from Fascism
            misdirection bullsh!t: the issue is surveillance and the cost/benefit

            If you don’t like it, then by all means sign up to the Ron Paul agenda (Mr. Snowden did), and get ready to hand over ALL your civil rights, big time.
            strawman bullsh!t

            Sure, some in government can be corrupt. Sure, Obama is floundering, and has become a huge disappointment. He is NOT the devil incarnate…
            misdirection bullsh!

            …though that seems the prevailing notion on this blog for some strange reason. (Paranoia again, I’m afraid, which is a shame.)
            condescending framing bullsh!t

            What most of you are describing is a worst case scenario of a monolithic government, ruthless and out of control.
            bullsh!t: this is what we are trying to PREVENT – what will you tell us when it has already gotten to that point?

            … we are still a democracy of some sort…NOT a dictatorship. And if you see Obama as a dictator…
            misdirection bullsh!t: the issue is surveillance

            You are assuming the worst . . . all we have is the word of one individual.
            bullsh!t: we have an individual who has put his life at risk and we have previous whistle-blowers that have warned of the same things.

            So sorry, I suggest we all calm down until we actually have some facts before us.
            I suggest you Troll somewhere else.

          5. from Mexico

            docg says:

            So sorry, I suggest we all calm down until we actually have some facts before us.

            So the documents provided by Snowden don’t count as facts, but mere “allegations”?

            And I suppose that the ‘Collateral Damage” video and other documents that Bradley Manning released are also mere “allegations,” with no basis in fact?

            If Manning and Snowden were to allege what happened in the documentaiton they produced without producing that documentation, just how many people do you believe would listen to them?

            Something tells me that no reality and no common sense can penetrate your mind.

          6. optimader

            taking rhetoric w/a primitively hidden agenda and apply basic rules of debate is cheating..

            “BIG GOVERNMENT protects us from Fascism” this one left me scratching my eyes..

            Jackrabbit says:
            June 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm
            This blog…really paranoid…Tea Party, etc.
            equivalence bullsh!t

            BIG GOVERNMENT protects us from Fascism
            misdirection bullsh!t: the issue is surveillance and the cost/benefit

          7. Minh

            They don’t want to know who you talked to yesterday, they want to know what you are thinking and how you came to be the person you are today.

            The thing here goes futher, they want you to know that they’re watching, and can access all your previous communication to harm you, discredit you or make fun of you in way they see fit.

            The owners of this country don’t want you to discuss about 9/11, is that clear ? So you don’t do that.

        3. optimader

          Post a clicky that establishes equivalence between the NSA electronic communication collecting, archiving and manipulation and any of said corporate entities, then it will be a worthwhile discussion.

          Incidentally, if you were naïve enough to willingly provide Facebook with personal information, that is forever in the public domain, that was your choice wasn’t it?

          1. docg

            Facebook has ways of getting information that are beyond my control, I assure you. I was listening to music on Spotify and to my horror discovered that my selections were being forwarded directly to Facebook and appeared on my Facebook wall (or somewhere on one of their pages). No attempt was made to solicit my permission, this just happened. I eventually figured out how to shut this down, or at least I think I did.

            Fortunately I’m not paranoid, I don’t worry about things like that, and if all my Facebook “friends” learn about my musical interests, that’s OK with me. I also don’t mind if Barack Obama finds out, incidentally, or any of his “minions” at the NSA. I suppose if they ever want to torture me, they can use that list to withhold access to my favorite tunes until I crack.

          2. optimader

            You chose, apparently incorrectly to click ” I accept” on a Facebook account. So unfortunately for you, unlike getting a tattoo on your neck of a rosebush, you will never be able to remove the information you provided and Facebook now aggregates about you. Your bad.
            So in your enthusiasm did you also provide facebook with all of your bank accounts/financial records, medical records, email history, landline/cellphone records, travel history, any juvenile records, municipal utility consumption records etc etc? Ah, well you at least had the choice in those matters as well.

            As for me, my internet access is through a VPN that goes through a corporate firewalled server, as well my phone is through a corporate entity, my land line is long disconnected, and several years ago I pulled the plug on cable (because it sucks not because of privacy issues)…. The point is, if you value privacy (which you apparently do not) you could do that as well. Alternatively your disregard for Constitutional rights damages The Commons and affects me.

        4. Lambert Strether

          What’s the difference between Verizon having it and the government?

          Well, last I checked (and do correct me if I’m wrong), Verizon couldn’t lob a drone at me, send armed troopers to my house, stop me at the border, subject me to an IRS audit, or (to be fair) issue me a Medal of Honor.

          Does that help, docg?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            To be fair, in this narrow (very narrow) and specific instance, a government is not like a private household…at all.

          2. docg

            What is your point, Lambert? Sure, if the US government, run by a ruthless dictator, wanted to terrorize its own citizens, it could certainly do a lot of horrible things Verizon couldn’t do. At least I hope that’s the case, because given the power of some of today’s CEO’s who knows what they might be capable of.

            But no one in his right mind actually believes Obama is a dictator, ruthless or not. If he were, I guarantee you he’d have half the Tea Party in chains at this moment, including Rush Limbaugh, Ron Paul and Glen Beck (not a bad idea, incidentally). There’d be a long list before he got to the likes of you and me. (And judging from the contents of my own blog — — I’d be admitted well ahead of you.)

            What concerns you, as it does me, is the precedent involved, and I agree that we have to be vigilant, and that the sort of allegations raised by people like Snowden have to be taken very seriously and fully investigated regardless of anyone’s alleged “good intentions”. Where we differ is that you want to see Obama as some sort of evil mastermind, capable of anything, and sorry but I’m not buying that. At least not yet.

          3. optimader

            “Where we differ is that you want to see Obama as some sort of evil mastermind, capable of anything”

            Doc g,
            If you haven’t noticed, regarding NC and LS in particular, BHO’s “capable of anything” bits are less relevant than the “what he has done or is doing” bits…

          4. Lambert Strether

            @docg I don’t know if Obama’s “capable of anything.” In fact, I don’t see how that proposition is even falsifiable until to comes time to write the history books, assuming such can be written when the time comes.

            What we (including you) do know is that Obama’s capable of whacking two U.S. citizens without any due process at all. So, with “anything,” I think you’re setting the baseline just a little too high.

            * * *

            Adding, “my point” was to answer your question, which I did. Ya know, I think there’s a word for the sort of political system that merges state and corporation. I know it’ll come to me….

          5. jrs

            Corporatism, corptocracy, plutocracy, kleptocracy … or was the word you were looking for fascism?

  9. Susan the other

    The Telegraph. Germany’s Constitutional Court v. the ECB. If the whole reason for the ECB to buy bonds is to protect the euro from the bond vigilantes then why don’t they just go after the bond vigilantes? Directly?

  10. charles sereno

    Re: Oil product glut
    “Demand growth is expected to gain momentum through the year, rising from a low of 215,000 bpd year-on-year in the second quarter of 2013 to 1.1 million bpd or 1.2 percent year-on-year by the fourth quarter as the economy strengthens.”

    Call for copy editor with moderate acquaintance of arithmetic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunately, that editor is not the only guilty one.

      They all do that a lot, never mentioning whether is the annual rate, quarterly rate or monthly/weekly we are talking about.

      My guess, in this case, is that last year, in the 4th quarter, we used 271,739 bpd.

  11. Skeptic

    Ho hum.

    DHS admits – June 8th, 2013 (Boston Globe) – that “training exercises” involving – get this – explosive devices were planned months in advance of the Boston Bombing.

    Just like the military training exercises taking place on 9/11/01 involving hijacked planes and planes crashing into buildings.

    And the classified intelligence programs running to identify said “9/11 terrorists” prior to 9/11. but which just didn’t seem to find the “bad guys” in time.

    And the training exercises involving the placement of bombs in the London Underground days prior to 7/7 that were merely a “coincidence”.

    Yup, no reason to be suspicious about what the media tells us I guess, right?

    I mean, it’s not like the media would ever ram a storyline down our throats without it being fully vetted and fact-checked ever, right?

    Especially concerning intelligence agencies, right?

    So, if the government and the media won’t fact check or even revisit events that involved – in toto – the killing of thousands of people and which directly lead to the deaths of millions more, I guess the sensible thing to do would be to jump on the media bandwagon when they present us with another sensational story involving some of the same intelligence agency participants at face face-value, right?

    I know, I’m a troll. (sniffle)

    1. Skeptic

      Wanted to add about Boston.

      Those training exercises involved BACKPACKS filled with explosives.

      Nah, nothing to think about there.


    2. Valissa

      Some droll troll cartoons for the proles :)

      What’s in a name?

      3 goats & a troll, part 1

      3 goats & a troll, part 2

      Classic trolling

      The social benefit of trolls

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Looks rather like the Boletus edulus, the porcino, cèpe, aka panza doesn’t it? Mmmmmm. What’s a toadstool?

  12. JTFaraday

    Privatizing national security services:

    “In the late 1990s, faced with a telecommunications and technological revolution that threatened to make the NSA’s telephonic and radar-based surveillance skills obsolete, the agency decided to turn to private corporations for many of its technical needs.

    The outsourcing plan was finalized in 2000 by a special NSA Advisory Board set up to determine the agency’s future and codified in a secret report written by a then-obscure intelligence officer named James Clapper. “Clapper did a one-man study for the NSA Advisory Board,” recalls Ed Loomis, a 40-year NSA veteran who, along with Binney and two others, blew the whistle on corporate corruption at the NSA”

    Note that “the outsourcing plan was finalized in 2000”– what? Just in time for 9/11?

    I guess there’s still room for a little more tinfoil on the top of my head.

    1. Accrued Disinterest

      The privitization aspect of this story is, IMHO the most revolting. The Who’s Who of small government types in ownership of the firms is laughable but tragic. In fact, the whole scheme is probably just another money siphon/wealth transfer Rube Goldberg pump. Remember Chertoff’s perv scanners?

      1. JTFaraday

        A pump primed by 3,000 dead Americans? You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

        The link from ScottW at 9:04 above, a Guardian article by Thomas Drake a previous whistle blower, suggests two things:

        First, intelligence prior to 9/11 did not permit spying on Americans without a warrant:

        “Before 9/11, the prime directive at the NSA was that you don’t spy on Americans without a warrant; to do so was against the law – and, in particular, was a criminal violation of Fisa.”

        And second, such traditional methods of information gathering were adequate to prevent 9/11:

        “I was a material witness for two 9/11 congressional investigations. In closed testimony, I told them everything I knew – about Stellar Wind, billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and the critical intelligence, which the NSA had but did not disclose to other agencies, preventing vital action against known threats. If that intelligence had been shared, it may very well have prevented 9/11.”

        Having been pickled in years of criminal scandals involving corporations and the government at the deliberate expense of American citizens, it is getting more and more difficult to dismiss the conspiracy theorists who suggest that 9/11 was “an inside job” at least to the extent that the government was deliberately negligent in preventing the attack.

        The longer the Guardian keeps these whistle blowers in the news, the more the public framework surrounding the “War on Terror” is likely to shift.

        We’ll then have a truly notable pattern of government and corporate interaction in banking and real estate, health insurance, and the national security state– all deliberately at the expense of the broader public.

        On top of all that, they add insult to injury by threatening to take away people’s old age benefits and virtually shut down the public schools in Philadelphia and Chicago.

        Man, what a country.

        1. JTFaraday

          Oh, wait– I forgot the for-profit prisons with the guaranteed occupancy rates the local judges are supposed to ensure are full.

          How I could I forget the for-profit prisons? Shame on me.

          I need a map.

  13. ScottS

    Re: Bigfoot no like Edward Snowden Michael Smith

    I think Michael Smith is right — David Brooks sees it as his divine right to dribble out secret information to the unwashed masses. Snowden is eating Brooks’s lunch, and BROOKS ANGRY!

    That explains why Brooks gets so personal and upset.

  14. Hugh

    The War on Terror is just a pretext for the construction of the surveillance state. The purpose of that state has nothing to do with protecting us. It is there to protect our ruling classes, the rich and elites. 9/11 killed 3,000 of us, but they sign off on more than that number of deaths every month year in year out just from those who can’t get access to healthcare. As I wrote a couple of days ago, it is unlikely that Obamacare will have much impact on these death rates, and these rates do not include those who have insurance now that is so poor or so expensive to be unusable. So dead Americans are not a problem for the powers that be as long as it is not them. Similarly, these same classes abetted and encouraged Wall Street to blow up the economy and when this happened. But the government they control did not send trillions to affected homeowners or those who lost their jobs, but to the banksters, that is themselves, who created this disaster. So when they say they are doing it for us, just remind yourselves they have never done anything for us and aren’t now.

  15. Jackrabbit


    In answer to a question from Senator Collins at the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on cybersecurity, Gen. Keith Alexander just said that he knows of no way that an analyst could tap into people’s phones and read their emails the way that Snowden described in his interview.

    Who should we believe? We now know that Clapper blatantly lied to Congress.

  16. Jackrabbit

    At the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on cybersecurity, they focus on Snowden’s and his claims but haven’t noted the previous Whistle-blowers that have warned of over-reaching data collection.

  17. Jackrabbit

    The headlines you’ll see: Gen. Alexander said at the hearing that the data collection has helped to deter “dozens” of attacks.

    What you probably won’t see: When pressed, he said that NSA data collection, helped to deter or contributed to deterring attacks at home and abroad (most will think the ‘attacks’ referred to in a head line is attacks on US).

    The General is supposed to provide additional info to Congress, but one wonders how much we will ever know about the contribution that EACH of these programs made to EACH potential attack.


    In the hearing, there were several references to plans to provide more info to Congress and to the public. A few incisive questions were put off to a closed door hearing (tomorrow?).

    The General says he wants to be as transparent as possible, in part because he is so proud of the work that they do.

    1. anonii

      “The headlines you’ll see: Gen. Alexander said at the hearing that the data collection has helped to deter “dozens” of attacks.”

      In all these cases below, who was it who gave the suspects/informants the weapons/ideas/drugs in the first place? How were they targeted/identified as potential “suspects” or “informants” to begin with?

      “San Jose man in bank bomb plot: Terrorist or delusional wannabe?”

      “FBI apparently set up US teen blamed for fake car bomb”

      “Throwaways: Recruited by Police & Thrown into Danger, Young Informants are Drug War’s Latest Victims”

    2. optimader

      1.) What constitutes an “attack” I wonder?
      2.) The cost to “deter” them? –we’ll never know

    3. Lambert Strether

      So, if the NSA has deterred dozens of attacks, how come the FBI has to use agent provacateurs to make their quota and keep the office lights on?

      Doesn’t make sense.

  18. diane

    Regarding Where’s the outrage over private snooping?, thanks for that link, Yves, it brightened my day a bit. She’s certainly correct, I’ve been wondering that for over a decade now. I was really stunned at the lack of outrage when it became irrefutable that all of the free email services were ‘reading’ the fucking emails.

    To my thought, she’s absolutely correct that that conversation is (and certainly has been for a long time) absolutely lacking. And she’s absolutely correct in her implication that despising companies such as Google and Facebook for their [stunning and historic] privacy violations, does not all mean that a person isn’t outraged by Governmental privacy violations, and does not support what Edward Snowden has done for all of us. Personally, I might diverge with her somewhat in that I believe that Google and Facebook, along with all of the other known and unknown (such as Thiel’s Palantir) tech oligarchies have had an incredibly tight government relationship since their inception, despite so many (if not all) having been founded by so called libertarians. All one has to do is to look at how much legalized tax evasion legislation has been written solely for their benefit, for just one thing.

    As to a person being able to evade that ‘private’ company’s privacy violation, that is complete and utter bullshit, for far too many reasons to list them all here. For one thing, a person would have to totally cut themselves off from the society they live amongst, they can’t control others (idiots and assholes) from sharing things like their phone number , email addresses (and whatever other “contact data” that idiot or asshole chose to include about them on software that’s consistently vacuumed for datoids), or photos which were meant to be personal, and they certainly can’t control workplace requirements which force them to share personal data on Google, Facebook, etcetera. Speaking of which, it’s outrageous that some of the largest non-profits who proclaim to be protecting civil liberties attempt to engage people on those entity’s Facebook pages.

  19. diane

    Regarding Where’s the outrage over private snooping?, thanks for that link, Yves, it brightened my day a bit. She’s certainly correct, I’ve been wondering that for over a decade now. I was really stunned at the lack of outrage when it became irrefutable that all of the free email services were ‘reading’ the fucking emails.

    To my thought, she’s absolutely correct that that conversation is (and certainly has been for a long time) absolutely lacking. And she’s absolutely correct in her implication that despising companies such as Google and Facebook for their [stunning and historic] privacy violations, does not all mean that a person isn’t outraged by Governmental privacy violations, and does not support what Edward Snowden has done for all of us. Personally, I might diverge with her somewhat in that I believe that Google and Facebook, along with all of the other known and unknown (such as Thiel’s Palantir) tech oligarchies have had an incredibly tight government relationship since their inception, despite so many (if not all) having been founded by so called libertarians. All one has to do is to look at how much legalized tax evasion legislation has been written solely for their benefit, for just one thing.

    As to a person being able to evade that ‘private’ company’s privacy violation, that is complete and utter bullshit, for far too many reasons to list them all here. For one thing, a person would have to totally cut themselves off from the society they live amongst, they can’t control others (idiots and a__holes) from sharing things like their phone number , email addresses (and whatever other “contact data” that idiot or a__hole chose to include about them on software that’s consistently vacuumed for datoids), or photos which were meant to be personal, and they certainly can’t control workplace requirements which force them to share personal data on Google, Facebook, etcetera. Speaking of which, it’s outrageous that some of the largest non-profits who proclaim to be protecting civil liberties attempt to engage people on those entity’s Facebook pages.

    (sorry if a duplicate, my first post was eaten, so I edited out the letter “s” in some areas and deleted the link to math babe’s post to see if that might work)

  20. diane

    I agree with Math Babe for the most part, as regards where’s the outrage over private snooping. (My longer post on it got trapped in spam twice.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I never much care for companies snooping around computing my FICA score.

      I have ranted about it on record here.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sorry, I meant FICO – it’s not really part of my daily routine. I think I may be excused for not spelling that one correctly.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps if I can somehow tie it to RICO it would help me to remember FICO.

      2. diane

        It’s horrifying and despicable what is available about persons online, some who never even use the internet. In the meantime, more than once I’ve tried to look up data on quite powerful people who affect our daily lives, only to find that they were able to prevent wiki pages, let alone all else.

        Worst of it all, no one outside of the powers that be, or a hacker, has any opportunity to correct any misinformation (dirty data, and there’s tons of it among the online data scrapers looking to $ell dirt to make a ‘living’). There should have been online outrage about this a long time ago.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Another outrage is that they know what you buy at the grocery store and what you eat, but you can’t ask them to label the stuff you buy or eat in order to avoid GM foods.

    1. diane

      Hmmmmm, that’s one thought, but there are some others, such as:

      A Whistleblower Holding All The Cards
      Why is Edward Snowden in Hong Kong?

      First of all, forget about Hong Kong’s extradition treaty. When it comes to deciding whether someone will be extradited, particularly for a political crime, as opposed to a simple murder or bank heist, the decision will be made in Beijing, not in a Hong Kong courtroom. Second, Hong Kong has a long history of providing a haven to dissidents — even to dissidents wanted by the Chinese government. Consider, for example, the Chinese labor movement activist Han Dongfang, who was the subject of a massive dragnet after the Tiananmen protests, but who successfully fled to Hong Kong before the handover of the place from Britain to China, and is continuing to monitor Chinese labor strife and protest from his home on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island. Hong Kong also has a public that is very supportive of democratic values — certainly more so than the majority of American citizens. Hong Kong people may not be paying too much attention to Snowden’s situation right now, but if the US were to actively seek to extradite him, I am confident that the place would erupt in support for him, including the local media.

      As for China, while the issue that has Snowden on the run — exposing an Orwellian spying program targeting the American people and run by the super-secret National Security Agency — is certainly not one that the Chinese government likes to discuss in terms of their own locked-down society, you can bet that the folks in the Propaganda Bureau in Beijing, and in the inner circle of the government, are rubbing their hands with glee both at the incredible embarrassment their harboring of Snowden causes the hypocritical US, and at the trove of intelligence information he has, which they may be able ultimately to lure him into disclosing if they treat him well.

      (and honestly Ken Klippenstein, the author or your linked article, really does need to ditch that gmail address if he wants to discuss private communications)

    2. Chris E.

      It’s an article that makes some good points.

      There is an Ecuadorian consulate in Hong Kong:

      But I assume it’s just some law firm that represents them for the diplomatic association and status that it gives them (as is typical for smaller countries who don’t want to spend money on an embassy in other countries). If that is the case, it’s probably not the same situation that Assange is in if he did end up hiding out there.

      Still, we don’t know the whole story, who knows what Snowden is up to. There’s some evidence (like his request to the Washington Post to leak the whole thing within a period of time) that he hasn’t really planned this out totally. It could all be part of a greater calculated plan too, it’s hard to tell until more news hits.

      I have to agree though that it would have made more sense if he just went directly to Ecuador, he’d be guaranteed asylum there (just look at Correa’s father’s history and his own willingness to protect Assange — i’m sure it would extend to Snowden). Also, since Greenwald happens to live in Brazil, it seems to be a more convenient meeting point to go to Ecuador! I really don’t know. We’ll see how things play out, but I get this weird feeling that Greenwald and Snowden know what they’re doing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You need to do it before, during and after an even for an effective propaganda campaign.

      Before, as in what news and books we read and what music/movies/TV we watch or listen. Getting people properly oriented lays a solid foundation.

      During, as in commenting systems you mentioned.

      After, as in how history is written.

    2. diane

      Of course they do, and given some of the implicit ReThuglican style Religiou$ rhetoric that’s included on the site you’ve willingly linked your ‘poster name’ to (which, looking at the profile, is your website), your last three posts being:

      The Blessing of The LORD Maketh Rich [Jamie Dimon? Murdoch?, Gates?, etcetera, etcetera]

      God Gives Power To Get Wealth

      Why God Wants Us Rich!

      I would think you would be well aware of that reality of disinformation, if not actually a participator in it.

      “$eed” any Purpo$e Driven Life churche$ lately? If not, I’m sure they’re hiring marketer$ promoting the Ob$cene wealth for a handful of ugly unscrupulous rentiers, and Austerity for the rest.


      1. diane

        Just to totally clarify my post above, this bracketed comment was mine:

        [Jamie Dimon? Murdoch?, Gates?, etcetera, etcetera]

        1. diane

          Since when is Diane an anonymous name? And If I were pawning off the same – Obama’s bud Rick [A Purpo$e Driven Life!!!] Warren’s U$ Nationali$t Capitali$t Religion!!! – rot that you are (which has spread like a terminal disease in California to defend its large population of hideous Billionaires), I guess I’d have no fear sharing my last name either (if that’s actually your real name).

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Overstated Inflation Dnager – Martin Wolf.

    To me, inflation is understated and we are being crushed under it.

    Food/energy and labor cost are excluded from core inflation. To me, they should not be. To me, they are to be the core like this:

    Core inflation = food/energy – labor cost

    So, if food/energy is going up 10% and you are making 5% less, we currently exclude both from the core.

    To me, the core (as in ‘important) inflation in this example should be computed this way

    10% – (-5%) = 15%

  22. skippy

    Australia gets ‘deluge’ of US secret data, prompting a new data facility
    By Philip Dorling June 13, 2013, 6:43 a.m.
    Australian intelligence agencies are receiving ”huge volumes” of ”immensely valuable” information from the United States including through the controversial PRISM program, Fairfax Media can reveal.

    See your ad here
    The ”data deluge” has required the Australian government to build a state-of-the-art secret data storage facility just outside Canberra.

    Privately labelled by one official as “the new black vault”, the high-security data centre is nearing completion at the HMAS Harman communications base and will support the operations of Australia’s signals intelligence agency, the top-secret Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

    The revelations about the PRISM program prompted widespread concern by civil libertarians concerned about its vast size and the lack of requirement to obtain a warrant before hoovering up internet and email data of users of Google, Facebook, Apple and other top technology firms.

    Greens senator Scott Ludlam said the government must explain the degree to which ordinary people were being spied on and whether this circumvented Australian privacy protections.

    Australian officials describe PRISM and “similar capabilities” in relation to internet service providers in Australia as “an inevitable response to the digital communications revolution”.

    The $163.5 million HMAS Harman Communications Facility Project includes an extension to the existing Defence Network Operations Centre and a new ”communication/data-room facility”.

    Because of its complexity and expansion of operational requirements, the project is 80 per cent over its original budget and five years behind schedule, but construction is near completion.

    There has been no discussion of the project in Senate estimates committee hearings, and the public reports of Parliament’s joint committee on intelligence and security make no reference to it.

    Officially the Defence Department will say only that the new facility will provide data storage and processing facilities but has confirmed that “the Australian Signals Directorate (also known as the Defence Signals Directorate) will be one of the Defence entities at the facility”.

    It is understood the centre will also serve the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation.

    In underlining the importance of PRISM, Australian officials noted that it had been described in leaked documents as the most prolific contributor to US President Barack Obama’s daily intelligence brief.

    ”Given that the US shares so much with us, it should be no surprise that this reporting is critical to Australian intelligence,” one official said on condition of anonymity, adding that it included ”what goes into the ONA [Office of National Assessments] briefs for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the national security committee of cabinet”.

    The officials said that Australia contributed to targeting undertaken by US intelligence, including “identification of specific individuals of security concern”.

    However, they stressed that the ASD complied with legal requirements and ministerial guidelines that limit reporting in relation to Australians, other than those of specific security or foreign intelligence interest.

    They expressed confidence in the US’s adherence to similar agreements.

    “We are overwhelmingly dependent on intelligence obtained by the NSA and the US intelligence community more broadly,” one official said.

    Officials cited intelligence relating to North Korea’s military threats, information relating to Australian citizens involved in fighting in Syria, missile technology acquisition efforts by Iran and Chinese internal political and economic developments as recent examples of the benefits of Australia’s intelligence ties with the US.

    US signals intelligence was also described as “absolutely critical” to the diplomatic campaign that won Australia a seat on the UN Security Council.

    Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has refused to say whether US intelligence agencies have shared with Australia information gained through PRISM

    over budget…


    an inevitable response…

    project is 80 per cent over its original budget and five years behind schedule, but construction is near completion…

    no discussion of the project in Senate estimates committee hearings, and the public reports of Parliament’s joint committee on intelligence and security make no reference to it….

    In underlining the importance of PRISM, Australian officials noted that it had been described in leaked documents as the most prolific contributor to US President Barack Obama’s daily intelligence brief…

    However, they stressed that the ASD complied with legal requirements and ministerial guidelines that limit reporting in relation to Australians, other than those of specific security or foreign intelligence interest.

    Skippy…. best for last…

    “They expressed confidence in the US’s adherence to similar agreements”

    The only thing I’m confidant about… is polie/new-speak means just the opposite of it intends too.

      1. optimader

        Australian intelligence agencies are receiving ”huge volumes” of ”immensely valuable” information from the United States including through the controversial PRISM program, Fairfax Media can reveal.

        See your ad here

        transnational distribution of “classified” personal data!
        What could possibly go wrong?
        Makes me think of squirrels burying nuts when the weather outside turns icy…

        It’s for your safety.. 9/11

        The ”data deluge” has required the Australian government to build a state-of-the-art secret data storage facility just outside Canberra.

        Privately labelled by one official as “the new black vault”, the high-security data centre is nearing completion at the HMAS Harman communications base and will support the operations of Australia’s signals intelligence agency, the top-secret Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

    1. Lambert Strether

      Two words: Fairfax Media.

      Reads like the ol’ “Plant the story in the compliant foreign press and watch our stenographers run with it” ploy, much beloved of the Bush regime.

      1. skippy

        Oh its getting legs down here… Parliament is now involved.

        BTW If your so inclined (not handing out homework) do a inter-connectedness search on all the company’s attached to this project, financially, mission statements, political affiliation, global reach through buy outs, etc.

        Skippy… simply shocking…

  23. optimader

    BTW, to the responsible folk at NC, congratulations on a seemingly bump-less transfer of ISP host!

    I ‘m sure it feels like a bullet dodged

    1. Lambert Strether

      [wipes forehead] not that I was responsible; Yves was, after a hugely painful sorting process where a number of seemingly well-qualified vendors disqualified themselves.

  24. skippy

    Sorry in advance for the excruciating mental pain, but, its just so surreal… two top political operatives.

    James Carville… Democratic party can’t get any worse than the Republicans… wished Holder prosecuted more post GFC…

    skippy… Just imagine Carville and Bill morphing in to a political singularity… Devolution is exhilarating!!!

    ps. keep your Gooney Box fine tuned… “Getting stupid is the price you pay, lookin’ for the one that gets away”

    1. Lambert Strether

      That’s Ultra-Strength Benghazi™, right? A topical formulation used to relieve pain in the right wing? No, but seriously, Carville said that? The wheels must really be falling off Obama’s wagon…

  25. Jackrabbit


    At the Senate Hearing today, Gen. Alexander she some light on a topic that you have grappled with here on NC.

    The NSA has trouble hiring the best IT people from the best schools so they like to get smart people out of HS (and elsewhere? I guess you would call them ‘non-traditional candiddates’) and train them. It takes about 3 years of training, he said.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Sorry, I saw the livestream. But I would imagine that a vid or transcript will turn up soon.

    1. jrs

      You know such an apprentice system really sounds like a good idea IF IT WASN’T RUN BY THE DEVIL INCARNATE.

  26. Lambert Strether

    The Secret War. Yikes.

    * * *

    Not that I’m foily, but isn’t it about time for some Gaslight? I think an incident that “proved” the need for our latter-day Stasi would really help move the national conversation along. Don’t you? Obama wouldn’t even have to know! He could just react to the happy coincidence!

    1. skippy

      Ref jackrabbit comment and wired post…

      Just think enders game mixed with staring at goats w/a dash of SciFi thinktankistan and garnished w/ideological exceptionalist rigidity… musical back ground – A Boy and his Dog movie…

      Skippy… what does a mushroom cloud in cyber space look like?

    2. optimader

      They will not quantify.. expect more weasel word parsing

      “data collection has helped to deter “dozens” of attacks”
      WTF… “helped” “deterred” “dozens”?

    1. diane

      That seems at least far closer to reality than that rigged (to my mind) Pew Poll that was being quoted all over the map the other day. Thanks much for the link.

  27. optimader
    Continued discussion about the NSA Leak

    Watched this last night, depressing how my tax $$ are spent
    John Miller.. classic bureaucrat, “I went to a seminar about this kinda guy, and I can tell you… blah blah blah.. ”

    Philip Mudd..yikes, what an antagonistic pr*k. I’ve seen this guy before, and thought he might have just been having a bad day. Hope this guy doesn’t drink

  28. Jessica

    About the notorious David Brooks piece

    Of course our court jesters are genuinely enraged. It is painful for them to have their meritocratic pretensions exposed and to be reminded what a human being with courage and integrity actually looks like.
    And perhaps there is something broader at work too. Parts of the knowledge worker class are paid not for the knowledge they create, but for the unknowing that they model and spread. And the higher they rise within the knowledge worker class, maybe even high enough to kiss the hems of our noble overlords, the more this is true. And hiding this is the absolute prime directive for the unknowing class. If it is exposed, there is no reason left for the overlords to toss them the juiciest of the table scraps. So for them, truth and someone who models telling it are an existential threat.

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