Who's Oliver North?
posted by Keito
No shooting at protest? Police may block mobile devices via Apple
posted by Keito
2012-09-05 21:52:31'Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, from any public gathering or venue they deem “sensitive”, and “protected from externalities.”
In other words, these powers will have control over what can and cannot be documented on wireless devices during any public event.
And while the company says the affected sites are to be mostly cinemas, theaters, concert grounds and similar locations, Apple Inc. also says “covert police or government operations may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.”
“Additionally,” Apple says,” the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting.”
The statement led many to believe that authorities and police could now use the patented feature during protests or rallies to block the transmission of video footage and photographs from the scene, including those of police brutality, which at times of major events immediately flood news networks and video websites.
Apple patented the means to transmit an encoded signal to all wireless devices, commanding them to disable recording functions.
Those policies would be activated by GPS, and WiFi or mobile base-stations, which would ring-fence ("geofence") around a building or a “sensitive area” to prevent phone cameras from taking pictures or recording video.
Apple may implement the technology, but it would not be Apple's decision to activate the “feature” – it would be down governments, businesses and network owners to set such policies, analyzes ZDNet technology website.
Having invented one of the most sophisticated mobile devices, Apple now appears to be looking for ways to restrict its use.
“As wireless devices such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal media devices and smartphones become ubiquitous, more and more people are carrying these devices in various social and professional settings,” it explains in the patent. “The result is that these wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues.”
The company’s listed “sensitive” venues so far include mostly meetings, the presentation of movies, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, academic lectures, and test-taking environments.'
Unity is Strength
posted by Keito
2012-09-04 21:22:19Telecomix Crypto Munitions Bureau works for the benefit of cipherspace. Cipherspace is the state of crypto anarchy. This means that your identity is anonymous as long as you stay protected. There are no identities or authorities in cipherspace, and it is not possible to enforce laws where there is no identity, or where there are no authorities.
Today there are several threats to the inhabitants of the internet. The politicians of oppressive regimes in the east and in the west, in north and south, are imposing surveillance. Surveillance of the entire networks. What people say to each other, what information is transmitted between bots and humans alike.
This aggression must be met with the strongest encryption algorithms available to modern computers. With onion and garlic routing it is possible to erect the fractal cipherspace. With distributed hash tables it is possible to create networks that has no central node. There is no one that controls the fractal cipherspace. Internet as we know it, turns into darknet.
Telecomix Crypto Munitions Bureau recommends that you use the following software: i2p, for anonymous and secure communications, Gnu Privacy Guard, for direct and verified communication. The onion router, TOR, to access the internets.
Telecomix Munitions is a defense bureau.
You can change the future of the internets by joining us in defending the networks and creating cipherspace.
You can help defending yourself and your friends, yes, all inhabitants of the networks.
By learning a few skills you can take control over technology.
Telecomix munitions are currently developing and promoting advanced security devices, which can endure even the harshest forms of government or corporation surveillance.
Your personal computer is an encryption device. Modern hardware can transform plain text to ciphertext with ease. So rapidly you barely notice the difference between unencrypted and encrypted data.
The laws of mathematics are infinitely stronger than the laws of nations and corporations, as the human laws are really only ink on paper. The laws of mathematics, on the other hand, are the laws that define our very universe. With the use of modern crypto algorithms we can use this fact to defend free speech and the integrity of both bots and humans. Information is nothing but numbers, numbers governed not by human laws, but by the laws of mathematics.
Networks that utilize the power of cryptography already exist. It will not be possible to stop the spread of the fractal cipherspace.
To find out more, come to cryptoanarchy.org
Why Chris Hedges Believes That Serious Revolt Is the Only Option People Have Left
posted by Keito
2012-09-04 20:54:41'Hedges discusses his new book "Days of Destruction Days of Revolt."
Chris Hedges, a former New York Times reporter, has become perhaps the foremost media scribe and most prolific advocate of a need for revolutionary change in our current institutional oppression and control of the government by the oligarchical and political elite. Hedges writes with a reporter's detail, a prophet's eloquence and a compelling sense of urgency. This is evident in his latest book, which visits the "sacrifice zones" of America. Get the just-released " Days of Destruction Days of Revolt " (with illustrations by Joe Sacco) directly from Truthout right now by clicking here. Make a minimum donation and support progressive writers and Truthout.
Mark Karlin: You begin "Days of Destruction Days of Revolt" with a visit to and reflection upon the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the poorest and perhaps most hopeless Native American settlement in the United States. Indian reservations were a tragically ironic result of the American revolt to throw off the shackles of being a colony, only to become a colonial power over the indigenous residents that lay in its way to achieving "Manifest Destiny." Is this irony the reason why you begin your journey across the "sacrifice zones" of the United States at Pine Ridge?
Chris Hedges: This is where the dark ethic of endless expansion and limitless exploitation, of ruthless imperial conquest, subjugation and extermination of native communities, began in the name of profit. Commercial interests set out to obliterate native peoples who stood in the way of their acquisition of the buffalo herds, timber, coal, gold and later minerals such as uranium, commodities they saw as sources of power and enrichment. Land was sliced up into parcels - usually by the railroad companies - and sold. Sitting Bull acidly suggested they get out scales and sell dirt by the pound. The most basic elements that sustain life were reduced to a vulgar cash product. Nothing in the eyes of the white settlers had an intrinsic value. And this dichotomy of belief was so vast that those who held on to animism and mysticism, to ambiguity and mystery, to the centrality of the human imagination, to communal living and a concept of the sacred, had to be extinguished. The belief system encountered on the plains and in the earlier indigenous communities in New England obliterated by the Puritans was antithetical and hostile to capitalism, the concept of technological progress, empire and the ethos of the industrial society.
The effect of this physical and moral cataclysm is being played out a century and a half later, however, as the whole demented project of endless capitalist expansion, profligate consumption and growth implodes. The suffering of the other, of the Native American, the African-American in the inner city, the unemployed coal miner or the Hispanic produce picker is universal. They went first. We were next.
MK: You write in your introduction, "We [you and Joe Sacco] wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like when the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit." This is pretty much a definition of neoliberal economics. Is the United States creating an internal economic system of colonies?
CH: The forces of colonization that were applied to the "sacrifice zones" Joe and I wrote about have been turned inwards on the rest of us to create a global form of neofeudalism, a world of corporate masters and serfs. The central point of the book is to show what happens when human beings, communities and the natural world are forced to prostrate themselves before the demands of the marketplace. It is incumbent on us to look closely at this system of neo-liberal economics because it is now cannibalizing what is left, including our eco-system. These forces know no limits. They will exterminate us all, as Joseph Conrad pointed out in "Heart of Darkness," his masterpiece on the savagery of colonial exploitation. Kurtz in Conrad's book is the self-deluded megalomaniac ivory trader who ends by planting the shriveled heads of murdered Congolese on pikes outside his remote trading station. But Kurtz is also highly educated and refined. Conrad describes him as an orator, writer, poet, musician and the respected chief agent of the ivory company's Inner Station. He is "an emissary of pity, and science, and progress." Kurtz was "a universal genius" and "a very remarkable person." He is a prodigy, at once gifted and multi-talented. He went to Africa fired by noble ideals and virtues. He ended his life as a self-deluded tyrant who thought he was a god. That pretty much sums up what we have become as a nation.
MK: Regarding your third chapter on Welch, West Virginia, and the devastation you portray created by the coal mining industry in that state, I wonder why the victims, primarily white, of a rapacious and pretty much unaccountable coal industry don't revolt. In fact, West Virginia has become a pretty reliable Republican state in presidential elections. Rephrasing your introductory quote to this chapter (from H.L. Mencken) have the destitute of West Virginia been driven from "despair" to "hopelessness" - and a psychological crutch of white identity politics, because they see no possibility of change in their condition?
CH: We are seeing the conscious and deliberate creation by the corporate state of a permanent, insecure and terrified underclass within the wider society. They have had a lot of practice in refining these techniques in the sacrifice zones, such as West Virginia, we wrote about. The corporate state sees this permanent and desperate underclass as the most effective weapon to thwart rebellion and resistance as our economy is reconfigured to wipe out the middleclass and leave most of us at subsistence level. Huge pools of unemployed and underemployed effectively blunt labor organizing, since any job, no matter how menial, is zealously coveted. The beating down of workers, exacerbated by the refusal to extend unemployment benefits for hundreds of millions of Americans and the breaking of public sector unions, the last redoubt of union power, has transformed those in the working class from full members of society, able to participate in its debates, the economy and governance, into terrified people in fragmented pools preoccupied with the struggle of private existence.
The determining factor in global corporate production is now poverty. The poorer the worker and the poorer the nation, the greater the competitive advantage. With access to vast pools of desperate, impoverished workers eager for scraps, unions and working conditions no longer impede the quest for larger and larger profits. And when the corporations do not need these workers they are cast aside. Those who are economically broken usually cease to be concerned with civic virtues. They will, history has demonstrated, serve any system, no matter how evil, and do anything for a pitiful salary, a chance for job security and the protection of their families. There will, as the situation worsens, also be those who attempt to rebel. I certainly intend to join them. But the state can rely on a huge number of people who, for work and meager benefits, will transform themselves into willing executioners.
MK: Of course, your chapter on the squalid, economically abandoned Camden, New Jersey, points to a particularly egregious example of an entire city that has been sucked of any hope. Financially, it has been written off by the "Masters of the Universe" economic agenda, its citizens parasites of the government, according to Paul Ryan. Even Barack Obama has been the first president in decades not to mention poverty in his State of the Union Addresses. But isn't Camden just representative of blighted urban areas, particularly minority neighborhoods, that have been left without jobs for decades? This goes back to before the urban riots of 1968 and the Kerner Report about what caused them. Isn't this structured poverty?
CH: The corporations and industries that packed up and left Camden and cities across the United States for the cheap labor overseas are never coming back. They have abandoned huge swathes of the United States, turned whole sections of American cities into industrial ghost towns. The unemployment and underemployment, the disenfranchisement of the working class, and the assault on the middle class, are never factored into the balance sheets of corporations. If prison or subsistence labor in China or India or Vietnam makes them more money, if it is possible to hire workers in sweatshops in Bangladesh for 22 cents an hour, corporations follow the awful logic to its conclusion. And as conditions worsen the corporate state, which controls the systems of information and entertainment, renders the poor and cities like Camden invisible. This is what Joe's illustrations are so crucial to the book. The goal of the book is to make these people visible.
MK: In the book, you bluntly write: "The American dream, as we know it is a lie. We will all be sacrificed." You speak of the spreading transnational corporate virus. Are you, in essence, saying the worst is yet to come, that the forsaken communities you profile are an ominous portent of what waits for so many of us except the privileged class?
CH: Yes. This is why we wrote the book, as a warning of what is about to befall us all. It is no more morally justifiable to kill someone for profit than it is to kill that person for religious fanaticism. And yet, from health companies to the oil and natural gas industry to private weapons contractors, individual death and the wholesale death of the ecosystem have become acceptable corporate business.
MK: Your fourth chapter is entitled "Days of Slavery" and it is about what you quote Bernie Sanders as calling "the bottom of the race to the bottom." It is about the exploited (and that seems an understated word given the circumstances) tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida. It is indentured servitude and just short of slavery. But isn't there a glimmer of hope in the activism of the Immokalee workers' movement for better pay and working conditions?
CH: You cannot use the word hope if you do not resist. If you resist, even if it appears futile, you keep hope alive. And in every sacrifice zone we visited, including Immokalee where the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have organized tomato workers, we saw heroic struggles to fight back. But at the same time it is vital to remember that we cannot achieve significant reform or restore our democracy through established mechanisms of power. The electoral process has been hijacked by corporations. The judiciary has been corrupted and bought. The press shuts out the most important voices in the country and feeds us the banal and the absurd. Universities prostitute themselves for corporate dollars. Labor unions are marginal and ineffectual forces. The economy is in the hands of corporate swindlers and speculators. And the public, enchanted by electronic hallucinations, remains largely passive and supine. We have no tools left within the power structure in our fight to halt unchecked corporate pillage.
Once any political system ossifies, once all mechanisms for reform close, the lunatic fringe of a society, as I saw in Yugoslavia, rises out of the moral swamp to take control. The reformers, however well meaning and honest, finally have nothing to offer. They are disarmed.
MK: You were a vocal advocate of the hopefulness of the Occupy movement in creating radical change. But you also note in your book that the federal government joined local governments in dispossessing the Occupy movement of its beachheads of public land. Are we facing a situation like the suppression of the Green Revolution in Iran, like the crushing of the revolt in Czechoslovakia?
CH: The importance of the Occupy movement, and the reason I suspect its encampments were so brutally dismantled by the Obama administration, is that the corporate state understood and feared its potential to spark a popular rebellion. I do not think the state has won. All the injustices and grievances that drove people into the Occupy encampments and onto the streets have been ignored by the state and are getting worse. And we will see eruptions of discontent in the weeks and months ahead.
If these mass protests fail, opposition will inevitably take a frightening turn. The longer we endure political paralysis, the longer the formal mechanisms of power fail to respond, the more the extremists on the left and the right - those who venerate violence and are intolerant of ideological deviations - will be empowered. Under the steady breakdown of globalization, the political environment has become a mound of tinder waiting for a light.
MK: You write, "Revolt is all that we have left. It is our only hope." Most revolt from oppressive powers has come from the working class. But except for the Wisconsin uprising, the working class appear to view movements like Occupy as not representing them. And even in Wisconsin, the GOP was able to split the unions from the non-union working class. How do you see progressive revolts linking up with the working class?
CH: The movement in Wisconsin made a fatal mistake. It allowed its energy to be channeled back into a dead political system by the Democratic Party and the labor movement, or at least what passes for a labor movement in this country. It could not compete with corporate power and corporate money. And it will be hard now to regroup. They willingly played the game and lost, although of course the rules were rigged. The split between labor and non-labor is only one divide. Occupy is essentially a white, middle class movement led by college educated men and women who have found no place in the wider society. The working class and the poor deeply distrusts liberals, especially college-educated liberals, who since the Clinton administration have repeatedly betrayed them in the name of liberalism. Those who support Occupy will have to rebuild bridges to our impoverished working class, and more importantly to those of color who live in marginal communities and who also have been abandoned by the traditional liberal elites. But this skirts an even bigger and more important problem. In the traditional sense of a working class, i.e. one that is organized and manufactures goods, we no longer have one. Workers have been reduced to toiling at two or three jobs in the service sector. I don't know how we are going to fight back effectively without an organized work force. That is one of my greatest concerns.
MK: You are a consummate writer. But what role do you see that six decades of visual and sound bite messaging on television has had on allowing the political elite and oligarchy to sustain their "frame" of the status quo through corporate TV?
CH: The chatter that passes for news, the gossip that is peddled by the windbags on the airwaves, the noise that drowns out rational discourse, and the timidity and cowardice of what is left of the newspaper industry reflect our flight into collective self-delusion. We stand on the cusp of one of the most seismic and disturbing dislocations in human history, one that is radically reconfiguring our economy as it is the environment, and our national obsessions, because of these electronic hallucinations, revolve around the trivial and the absurd. The illusionists who shape our culture, and who profit from our incredulity, hold up the gilded cult of Us. Popular expressions of religious belief, personal empowerment, corporatism, political participation and self-definition argue that all of us are special, entitled and unique. All of us, by tapping into our inner reserves of personal will and undiscovered talent, by visualizing what we want, can achieve, and deserve to achieve, happiness, fame and success. It is, of course, magical thinking.
MK: You conclude "Days of Destruction" with an anecdote about your experience as a boxer fighting men who were professionals and pummeling you, but you kept fighting and eventually the crowd cheered you on as the underdog. How does this relate to achieving a successful revolt against a status quo with unlimited financial power and military/police powers?
CH: You do not fight tyrants because you are going to win. You fight tyrants because they are tyrants. Yes, we do not have the tools or the wealth of the state. We cannot beat it at its own game. We cannot ferret out infiltrators. The legal system is almost always on the state's side. If we attempt to replicate the elaborate security apparatus of our oppressors, even on a small scale, we will unleash widespread paranoia and fracture the movement. If we retreat into anonymity, hiding behind masks, then we provide an opening for agents provocateurs who deny their identities while disrupting the movement. If we fight pitched battles in the streets we give authorities an excuse to fire their weapons.
All we have, as Vaclav Havel wrote, is our own powerlessness. And that powerlessness is our strength. The survival of the movement depends on embracing this powerlessness. It depends on two of our most important assets - utter and complete transparency and a rigid adherence to nonviolence, including respect for private property. This permits us, as Havel puts it in his 1978 essay "The Power of the Powerless," to live in truth. And by living in truth we expose a corrupt corporate state that perpetrates lies and lives in deceit.
This attempt to "live within the truth" brings with it ostracism and retribution. Punishment is imposed in bankrupt systems because of the necessity for compliance, not out of any real conviction. And the real crime committed is not the crime of speaking out or defying the rules, but the crime of exposing the charade.'
Frank Church: Surveillance State evils
posted by Keito
2012-09-04 20:42:36'35 years ago, a leading liberal Senator issued a grave warning about allowing the NSA to spy domestically.
“Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
That dramatic warning comes not from an individual who is typically held up as a symbol of anti-government paranoia. Rather, it was issued by one of the most admired and influential politicians among American liberals in the last several decades: Frank Church of Idaho, the 4-term U.S. Senator who served from 1957 to 1981. He was, among other things, one of the Senate’s earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Chairman of the Committee (bearing his name) that in the mid-1970s investigated the widespread surveillance abuses committed under every President since FDR (that was the investigation that led to the enactment of FISA, the criminal law prohibiting the Executive Branch from intercepting the communications of American citizens without first obtaining a warrant from a court: the law which the Bush administration got caught violating and which, in response, was gutted by the Democratic-led Congress in 2008, with the support of then-Senator Obama; the abuses uncovered by the Church Committee also led to the enactment of further criminal prohibitions on the cooperation by America’s telecoms in any such illegal government spying, prohibitions that were waived away when the same 2008 Congress retroactively immunized America’s telecom giants from having done so).
At the time of the Church Committee, it was the FBI that conducted most domestic surveillance. Since its inception, the NSA was strictly barred from spying on American citizens or on American soil. That prohibition was centrally ingrained in the mindset of the agency. Church issued that above-quoted warning out of fear that, one day, the NSA’s massive, unparalleled surveillance capabilities would be directed inward, at the American people. Until the Church Committee’s investigation, most Americans, including its highest elected officials, knew almost nothing about the NSA (it was referred to as No Such Agency by its employees). As James Bamford wrote about Church’s reaction to his own findings about the NSA’s capabilities, “he came away stunned.” At the time, Church also said: “I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Of course, that bridge has long ago been crossed, without even much discussion, let alone controversy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, George Bush ordered the NSA to spy on the communications of Americans on American soil, and they’ve been doing it ever since, with increasing aggression and fewer and fewer constraints. That development is but one arm in the creation of an American Surveillance State that is, literally, ubiquitous — one that makes it close to impossible for American citizens to communicate or act without detection from the U.S. Government — a state of affairs Americans have long been taught since childhood is a hallmark of tyranny. Such are the times — in both America generally and the Democratic Party in particular — that those who now echo the warnings issued 35 years ago by Sen. Church (when surveillance was much more restrained, legally and technologically) are scorned by all Serious People as radical hysterics.
Yesterday, Democracy Now had an extraordinary program devoted to America’s Surveillance State. The show had three guests, each of whose treatment by the U.S. Government reflects how invasive, dangerous and out-of-control America’s Surveillance State has become:
William Binney: he worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, and resigned in October, 2001, in protest of the NSA’s turn to domestic spying. Binney immediately went to the House Intelligence Committee to warn them of the illegal spying the NSA was doing, and that resulted in nothing. In July, 2007 — while then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was testifying before the Senate about Bush’s warrantless NSA spying program — Binney’s home was invaded by a dozen FBI agents, who pointed guns at him, in an obvious effort to intimidate him out of telling the Senate the falsehoods and omissions in Gonzales’ testimony about NSA domestic spying (another NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, had his home searched several months later, and was subsequently prosecuted by the Obama DOJ — unsuccessfully — for his whistleblowing).
Jacob Appelbaum: an Internet security expert and hacker, he is currently at the University of Washington and engaged in some of the world’s most important work in the fight for Internet freedom. He’s a key member of the Tor Project, which is devoted to enabling people around the world to use the Internet with complete anonymity: so as to thwart government surveillance and to prevent nation-based Internet censorship. In 2010, he was also identified as a spokesman for WikiLeaks. Rolling Stone dubbed him “The Most Dangerous Man in Cyberspace,” writing: “In a sense, he’s a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook’s ambition is to ‘make the world more open and connected,’ Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. . . . ’I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time,’ he says. ‘I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don’t want a data trail to tell a story that isn’t true’.”
For the last two years, Appelbaum has been repeatedly detained and harassed at American airports upon his return to the country, including having his laptops and cellphone seized — all without a search warrant, of course — and never returned. The U.S. Government has issued secret orders to Internet providers demanding they provide information about his email communications and social networking activities. He’s never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.
Laura Poitras: she is the filmmaker about whom I wrote two weeks ago. After producing an Oscar-nominated film on the American occupation of Iraq, followed by a documentary about U.S. treatment of Islamic radicals in Yemen, she has been detained, searched, and interrogated every time she has returned to the U.S. She, too, has had her laptop and cell phone seized without a search warrant, and her reporters’ notes repeatedly copied. This harassment has intensified as she works on her latest film about America’s Surveillance State and the war on whistleblowers, which includes — among other things — interviews with NSA whistleblowers such as Binney and Drake.
So just look at what happens to people in the U.S. if they challenge government actions in any meaningful way — if they engage in any meaningful dissent. We love to tell ourselves that there are robust political freedoms and a thriving free political press in the U.S. because you’re allowed to have an MSNBC show or blog in order to proclaim every day how awesome and magnanimous the President of the United States is and how terrible his GOP political adversaries are — how brave, cutting and edgy! — or to go on Fox News and do the opposite. But people who are engaged in actual dissent, outside the tiny and narrow permissible boundaries of pom-pom waving for one of the two political parties — those who are focused on the truly significant acts which the government and its owners are doing in secret — are subjected to this type of intimidation, threats, surveillance, and climate of fear, all without a whiff of illegal conduct (as even The New York Times‘ most celebrated investigative reporter, James Risen, will tell you).
Whether a country is actually free is determined not by how well-rewarded its convention-affirming media elites are and how ignored its passive citizens are but by how it treats its dissidents, those posing authentic challenges to what the government does. The stories of the three Democracy Now guests — and so many others — provide that answer loudly and clearly.
Beyond the stories of these guests, I want to highlight two particularly significant exchanges from yesterday’s show (and I really urge you to find the time this weekend to watch the whole thing; it’s embedded below or, alternatively, can be viewed here). First is this:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the differences in the [Bush and Obama] administrations?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Actually, I think the surveillance has increased. In fact, I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: How many?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Twenty trillion.
AMY GOODMAN: And you’re saying that this surveillance has increased? Not only the—
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —targeting of whistleblowers, like your colleagues, like people like Tom Drake, who are actually indicted under the Obama administration—
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —more times—the number of people who have been indicted are more than all presidents combined in the past.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. And I think it’s to silence what’s going on. But the point is, the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want . . . That, by the way, estimate only was involving phone calls and emails. It didn’t involve any queries on the net or any assembles—other—any financial transactions or credit card stuff, if they’re assembling that. I do not know that, OK.
That sounds like a number so large as to be fantastical, but it’s entirely consistent with what The Washington Post, in its 2010 “Top Secret America” series, reported: “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.” Read that sentence again and I defy anyone to deny that the U.S. has become the type of full-fledged, limitless Surveillance State about which Sen. Church warned.
Note, too, how this weapon has been not just maintained, but — as Binney said — aggressively expanded under President Obama. Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowing has been, in large part, designed to shield from the American public any knowledge of just how invasive this Surveillance State has become. Two Obama-loyal Democratic Senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — have spent two full years warning that the Obama administration is “interpreting” its spying powers under the Patriot Act in ways so “twisted” and broad that it would shock the American public if it learned of what was being done, and have even been accusing the DOJ and Attorney General Holder of actively misleading the public in material ways about its spying powers (unlike brave whistleblowers who have risked their own interests to bring corruption and illegality to the public’s attention — Binney, Drake, Bradley Manning, etc — Wyden and Udall have failed to tell the public about this illegal spying (even though they could do so on the Senate floor and be immune from prosecution) because they apparently fear losing their precious seat on the Intelligence Committee, but what’s the point of having a seat on the Intelligence Committee if you render yourself completely impotent even when you learn of systematic surveillance lawbreaking?).
None of this should be surprising: Obama — in direct violation of his primary campaign pledge — infamously voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that not only immunized lawbreaking telecoms, but also legalized much of the NSA domestic spying program Bush had ordered in the aftermath of 9/11. At the time, he and his acolytes insisted that Obama was doing so only so that he could win the election and then use his power to fix these spying abuses, yet another Obama-glorifying claim that has turned out to be laughable in its unreliability. The Obama administration also advocated for full-scale renewal of the Patriot Act last year, and it was Harry Reid who attacked Rand Paul for urging reforms to that law by accusing him of helping the Terrorists with his interference.
But whereas massive Surveillance State abuses were once a feigned concern of progressives, they now no longer are. Just last week, The New York Times began an editorial about the proposed massive expansion of Internet spying powers in Britain with this sentence: “The George W. Bush team must be consumed with envy” — because, of course, Barack Obama has no interest in such things.
Similarly, Hilary Bok is a Philosophy Professor at Johns Hopkins who blogged about civil liberties and executive power abuses during the Bush years under the name “Hilzoy.” I have a lot of respect for her; she gave valuable insight into the draft of my first book on Bush’s surveillance abuses. But barely five months into the Obama presidency, she announced that she would no longer blog because she started blogging to combat the “insanity” that prevailed in the U.S. but now, in the wake of Obama’s election, “it seems to me that the madness is over” — even as the out-of-control Surveillance State she spent so much time protesting continues to explode. Along the same lines, let me know if MSNBC ever mentions, let alone denounces, any of these trends or stories of oppression of the type experienced by Binney, Appelbaum and Poitras. That is one major reason why it continues unabated: because the political faction with a history of opposing these abuses — American liberalism, which spearheaded the Church Committee reforms — has largely decided that the Democratic President whom they elected can be trusted with these vast and unaccountable powers or, worse, they just pretend that this isn’t happening.
Then there’s this: Appelbaum describing the various government efforts to intrude into his private discussions and Internet activities, all without a warrant:
JACOB APPELBAUM: But in the period of time since they’ve started detaining me [at airports], around a dozen-plus times. I’ve been detained a number of times. The first time I was actually detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I was put into a special room, where they frisked me, put me up against the wall. One guy cupped me in a particularly uncomfortable way. Another one held my wrists. They took my cell phones. I’m not really actually able to talk about what happened to those next.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it, right?And they took my laptop, but they gave it back. They were a little surprised it didn’t have a hard drive. I guess that threw them for a loop. And, you know, then they interrogated me, denied me access to a lawyer. And when they did the interrogation, they has a member of the U.S. Army, on American soil. And they refused to let me go. They tried—you know, they tried their usual scare tactics. So they sort of implied that if I didn’t make a deal with them, that I’d be sexually assaulted in prison, you know, which is the thing that they do these days as a method of punitive punishment, and they of course suggested that would happen.
AMY GOODMAN: How did they imply this?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, you know, they say, “You know, computer hackers like to think they’re all tough. But really, when it comes down to it, you don’t look like you’re going to do so good in prison.” You know, that kind of stuff.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what was the main thrust of the questions they were asking you?
JACOB APPELBAUM:Well, they wanted to know about my political views. They wanted to know about my work in any capacity as a journalist, actually, the notion that I could be in some way associated with Julian. They wanted, basically, to know any—
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Julian Assange, the one and only. And they wanted—they wanted, essentially, to ask me questions about the Iraq war, the Afghan war, what I thought politically. They didn’t ask me anything about terrorism. They didn’t ask me anything about smuggling or drugs or any of the customs things that you would expect customs to be doing. They didn’t ask me if I had anything to declare about taxes, for example, or about importing things. They did it purely for political reasons and to intimidate me, denied me a lawyer. They gave me water, but refused me a bathroom, to give you an idea about what they were doing.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened to your Twitter account?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, the U.S. government, as I learned while I was in Iceland, actually, sent what’s called an administrative subpoena, or a 2703(d) order. And this is, essentially, less than a search warrant, and it asserts that you can get just the metadata and that the third party really doesn’t have a standing to challenge it, although in our case we were very lucky, in that we got to have—Twitter actually did challenge it, which was really wonderful. And we have been fighting this in court.
And without going into too much detail about the current court proceedings, we lost a stay recently, which says that Twitter has to give the data to the government. Twitter did, as I understand it, produce that data, I was told. And that metadata actually paints—you know, metadata and aggregate is content, and it paints a picture. So that’s all the IP addresses I logged in from. It’s all of the, you know, communications that are about my communications, which is Bill’s specialty, and he can, I’m sure, talk about how dangerous that metadata is.
What Appelbaum is referring to is the fact that the Patriot Act has decreed then when the U.S. Government demands information about an individual — all without a search warrant — the party who receives the demand is criminally prohibited from discussing that demand. That’s why Appelbaum can be targeted with such intimidating, constant and chilling invasions without any allegation of wrongdoing: because the powers of the Surveillance State are exercised almost entirely in the dark. That’s what makes it so significant that two Democratic Senators have been warning for two years now that these powers are being exercised far beyond what the statute permits, far beyond what the public can even imagine, and that the Obama DOJ is lying about it.
The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition. The way to avoid its grip is simply to acquiesce to the nation’s most powerful factions, to obediently remain within the permitted boundaries of political discourse and activism. Accepting that bargain enables one to maintain the delusion of freedom — “he who does not move does not notice his chains,” observed Rosa Luxemburg — but the true measure of political liberty is whether one is free to make a different choice.'