NSA

The Tyranny of the Individual, Part Deux.

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Several years ago I wrote an article entitled: Robespierre, Julian Assange, and the Tyranny of the Individual. This is a follow-up to that article.

It is pure irony that a grandfather, Thomas Huxley,  of the modern enlightenment’s core ideologies; Darwinism and Atheism, should write the following:

No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still the less superior, of the white man…It is simply incredible [to think] that…he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites.

Yet the justification for Huxley’s beliefs are the same as they are for many other men alive during his era: He was a man of his time. He simmered in the broth of his culture and therefore could not help but to take on its taste.  As far as I know Huxley’s books are still in the libraries of many major universities.

The fact is, we all have views that we believe would offend the majority of the world. I certainly do. Who among us would want our most private conversations broadcast to the world for no other reason than because someone else was angry with you? Not for matters of national security, or to bring justice in the case of criminal activities, but merely for spite.

The case of Los Angelas Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s leaked conversations with his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, in which Sterling demands that Stiviano not be seen in public with black people and that she cease publicizing photos of she and black men on Instagram. The nature of his comments predictably drew great outrage from many, and Sterling was fined $2.5 million by the NBA. He may be forced to sell his team.

V. Stiviano. Posted on her Instagram profile
V. Stiviano. Posted on her Instagram profile

But for all the outrage about NSA activities. and the dread possibilities of metadata collection, there seems to be little  concern about situations in which individuals have been materially harmed by vindictive private individuals or organizations who use political correctness to punish or even gain an advantage in law suits.

I saw little outrage when the Washington Post appealed to its readers to help the paper’s staff sort through Sarah Palin’s emails, in an attempt to dredge up some dirt. 

Nor is the much discussion that the media breaks the law by printing or displaying classified materials, but the government is too scared  to prosecute. Apparently we elected the NYT to decide what should be classified or not. It’s all for the good of the people I’m sure, nothing to do with the Left’s much maligned profit.

Brendon Eich, chief executive of Mozilla stepped down from his position after it was revealed his donated $1000 to Proposition 8, the proposal to ban gay marriage in California. The IRS “inadvertently” released a list of names of those who supported the bill with money, though the information was available publicly before that, as the LA Times created a searchable data base. If Eich is basically punished for his donation, does this mean that people who voted for Prop 8 should be targeted? It’s all for the public good when the media does this sort of stuff, and materially harms people, but when the NSA does it during the longest period of American war, it’s looking for your porn.

Then of course there was the Mel Gibson ordeal, in which his wife, Oksana Grigorieva taped Gibson during an argument in which he makes an ass of himself. Of course, millions of dollars were at stake  Having been a cop and grown up in the real world, Gibson’s statements during a domestic argument didn’t shock me all that much. I’ve seen otherwise perfectly sane men lose their minds over domestic issues. I don’t recommend it. But there is something unseemly about taping someone you’ve been close to only to release their cherry-picked statements to the mass media. It these recordings were only for self-protection, or to catch someone planning or talking about a crime, it would be understandable. But this is plain spite and evil.

The laws about private citizens recording other citizens differ from state to state. In some states, both recorded parties must be aware the taping is going on, while in others only one party need be aware. I personally think that both people should always have to know unless a disinterested judge finds a reason that there is sufficient need for a secret recording. If we worry about the government doing it, we should also worry about the potential abuse by millions of citizens.

Besides that lesson, if you’re an older man with millions of dollars, and a much younger woman who spends too much time on her looks takes a sudden interest in you, you may want to think twice.

 

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Manufacturing Scandal

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Here, retired military intelligence officer Ralph Peters tells it like it is: Lazy journalism requires scandal. It is much easier to generate a story from what is not known than what is known. Thus, media types can turn what-ifs into headlines. The scandal that is Snowden is really only worth a few headlines. He did it, it’s a crime, he admits he did it. If the media wants to really milk this, they must talk about unknowns, possibilities, technicalities, and avoid the fact that recent court decisions have labeled NSA activities legal.  Disconnected, out of context arguments can be melded into unified theorems in which black helicopters no one ever sees are hovering outside our windows hoping to catch us surfing porn.

Members of the Congressional Intelligence committee have known the details of NSA programs for years. The fake outrage they present in hearings broadcast on CSPAN is populism of the most despicable sort.

A collapsing World Trade Center rings hollow to some, as does the fact that NSA employees have bosses to answer to everyday, and those bosses want dead terrorists on their list of achievements, not the URLs of gay porn sites visited by congressmen. To people, in America, both Left and Right, there is a pervading mythology that society, security, culture and good government are held together by mysterious, invisible forces, akin to luck. That’s false. Things work because of a concerted effort to make them work. Al-Qaeda has been kept in check not because jihadists are tired, had a change of heart, or because America apologized for its “rapacious” behavior abroad. They’ve been kept in check because almost every country in the Western world seized their bank accounts, jailed its operatives, killed its zealots, increased security at airports and other vulnerable nodes, and invaded its sanctuaries.

“Because Freedom”, is not an argument. Success is rarely a mistake.

 

Did Clapper Lie?

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Have you stopped beating your wife? It’s a yes or no question, Sir.

To the allegation that DNI Robert Clapper lied to Congress concerning NSA collections activities, here’s a letter written to the New York Times by the General Counsel of DNI:

 

To the Editor:

Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower” (editorial, Jan. 2) repeats the allegation that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, “lied” to Congress about the collection of bulk telephony metadata. As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true.

Senator Ron Wyden asked about collection of information on Americans during a lengthy and wide-ranging hearing on an entirely different subject. While his staff provided the question the day before, Mr. Clapper had not seen it. As a result, as Mr. Clapper has explained, he was surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans’ communications. In that context, his answer was and is accurate.

When we pointed out Mr. Clapper’s mistake to him, he was surprised and distressed. I spoke with a staffer for Senator Wyden several days later and told him that although Mr. Clapper recognized that his testimony was inaccurate, it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified.

This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person’s state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure. Indeed, it would have been irrational for Mr. Clapper to lie at this hearing, since every member of the committee was already aware of the program.

ROBERT S. LITT
General Counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, Jan. 3, 2014

Which is why Clapper corrected himself when he was given the opportunity, not only in person but through the attorney representing his office. The only correct answer that Clapper could have given in that setting is ” I can neither confirm nor deny these activities in this setting.” That’s it. Of course, if Clapper gave that answer, the conspiracies would be reneiwed. No one, not even the president can discuss classified information on national television. There are forums for this, but CSPAN is not one of them.  Unlike Snowden, Clapper seems cognizant of the oath he swore. As the letter points out, the members of the committee know just as much about this program as does Clapper.

Furthermore, Senator Wyden, just before Clapper states that the NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on Americans, says that there is information that the NSA has hundreds of thousands of dossiers on Americans. This is an absolute impossibility. I have built dossiers. I have worked with NSA certified Army signals specialist. This is simply not happening.

Edward Snowden: Liar.

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Does anyone find it the least bit troubling that Edward Snowden, hero to both the Left and Right (the Left because they see his actions as a smack to the military/intelligence industrial complex and love a good black helicopter conspiracy; the Right, because they are assured, despite the evidence, that the NSA is reading their emails and wantonly violating their 4th Amendment rights), seems to have lied about everything on his way to a job with the NSA and even after, continues to lie?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. I was finally spurred on by Snowden’s most recent slap in the face to America: His tongue in cheek questioning of Russian arch-villain Vladimir Putin during a game show in Russia.

The article states: Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States–referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world. 

Putin responds:

We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist,” he said. “But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States…Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law and society.

All of which of course, lies, to be sucked up by the vacuous sorts that populate today’s America. If Snowden’s appearance on a game show asking a question such as this of Putin does not offend an American, I question that person’s patriotism. If that person gives me a quote about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels, well, I say the first refuge of a scoundrel is cowardice masquerading as patriotism. Don’t tell me Snowden’s actions are those of a patriot.

Snowden must not care about such people as Alexander Litvinyenko, Russian defector and former FSB agent who fled to England following his accusations that the Russian government conducted a Black Flag attack against an apartment building that killed 300 Russians and that he claimed was a pretext for subsequent Russian attacks against Chechnya. In 2006, someone administered a to Litvinyenko a lethal dose of the radioactive isotope, Polonium 210. He was in Britain at the time he received the poison.

But Snowden didn’t ask Putin about this case, nor why MI6’s (Britain’s domestic intelligence service) only suspect in the murder is the deputy of the Russian state Duma, and former KGB agent Andrey Lugovoy. The British government requested extradition of Lugovoy; Russia refused.

Litvinyenko
Litvinyenko
Andrey Lugovoy: Suspected Nuclear Assassin

The Russian government is well on its way to building a fascist state, and if one reads the comments posted by Americans in articles about Snowden, it’s easy to see that these Americans fully support the fascists and criminals running the show is Moscow. Putin has surrounded himself with former KGB cadre, well versed, indeed possibly the best in human history, at media manipulation, psychological operations, propaganda, and pulling the strings of foreign societies in order to steer them in a desired direction. I can see from the comments in these articles that here in America, we’ve raised a whole new generation of duped. The future seems bleak. The strength of any democracy is a strong, self-sufficient and enlightened middle class. That is crumbling before our eyes, but it’s not the financial realm that worries me.

Let me address an issue that’s been nagging me since Snowden leaked the intelligence: Few, if any, have a clear picture of what the NSA does. Snowden alleges the NSA violates constitutional rights, yet courts have  not established consensus on the matter. The Supreme Court has refused to hear cases concerning NSA collection until lower courts hear the cases first. Before you waste your time worrying about what the NSA could do, worry about what other agencies can do. I know people who’ve had their entire bank accounts reduced to zero from thousands of dollars by state tax agencies for failure to pay taxes. No warrant. No trial. No face to face talks with agents of the state. Now that’s real power, not theory and conjecture. Pay your taxes. Moreover, the stories he relates are well covered in books which are years, even decades old. First, there’s The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford. Then there’s Chatter, published in 2006 and written by Patrick Radden Keefe. I highly recommend Chatter, as it is written more recently than The Puzzle Palace. I myself can stomach Bamford only in small doses. NSA has in recent years cut off his access to interviews so now Bamford has declared war on the agency and never misses a chance to rip them ,droning on about the danger of metadata while never mentioning that virtually every major business collects metadata, and blaming NSA, not Snowden, for so much data being stolen by Snowden from NSA. Nor does Bamford’s impotent self-awareness remind him that the reams of reports he gathered from the government about NSA under the Freedom of Information Act, some which included info on himself, may be indicative that rule of law is still being observed in some branches of government. But he has to make money some how.  Keefe is extremely balanced in his analysis and writes that during all of his investigations, he constantly encountered the same problem we see with the issue of Snowden: The stories and accusations were always veiled behind conspiratorial theory, not hard evidence. The NSA could read my email. The NSA may have dirt on the Supreme Court Justices, that’s why the court has refused to hear recent cases bought against the agency. Possibly, the NSA brought down David Petraeus.

Even if there are illegalities revealed by Snowden’s massive leak, Snowden had no way to know the all of the contents of the materials he leaked–there’s hundreds of thousands of documents. Oddly enough, some of the documents leaked by Snowden are actually court documents authorizing NSA activities; he probably didn’t even know they were in his leaked material, given that it’s impossible he reviewed all of it.  Allowing that there may be illegalities, Snowden essentially carpet bombed and entire town to kill one terrorist. Americans simply do not understand their own laws, the legal system, or the bureaucracies of government. Of this, I am a first hand witness. how many times I’ve been told by a suspect I had in custody that I’d made a terrible mistake, because I hadn’t read them their rights. Miranda Rights, that is. They had no clue as to what those rights entailed and when they were due them. Most Americans probably couldn’t name all 50 states on a map. Because we as a people are failing, and yes the government too. And when the government of a democracy fails, we can blame the people, just as when it succeeds we can give them credit. But seeing the bogeyman in every government activity hides the reality: Government is mostly inept and inefficient, not razor sharp and ultra-capable.

The NSA’s technical capabilities are not representative of what it actually does, anymore than the ability of the typical beat cop to use his gun and knowledge of forensic technology means that cops murder people in back alleys just to steal their wallet and drugs, despite the growing belief in this paradigm by a large portion of Americans. 99% of Americans couldn’t even tell you what metadata is. Yet, they’ll post internet memes on Facebook about the NSA finally getting a peek at the Constitution because someone emailed it. None of those people seem to know or be concerned about the fact that Facebook, Google, Twitter and various other social media and advertising companies all use metadata collection. Ever hear of a HTTP cookie? Geez people. This is ancient news. While I was researching this post on Reuters, a pop-up window explained to me that Reuters uses cookies to make my life better. Not as cool as black helicopters. Here’s the disclaimer on their “cookie consent” panel.

Thomson Reuters, with help from our site partners, collects data about your use of this site. We respect your privacy and if you would like to limit the data we collect please use the control panel below. Changing these setting may reduce news story suggestions made to you, or alter the type of advertising you receive while on our sites. To find out more about how Thomson Reuters uses data please visit our privacy policy .

Repeat this until you understand it: The NSA does not read your email, the NSA does not read your email…Unless it has a warrant based on probable cause on a foreign national. If you don’t think it’s a good idea we be able to listen in on and track people in Bangladesh plotting to blow up American airplanes and Soldiers, you’re insane, not a champion of liberty. Those who think the NSA should give up this capability basically want the NSA to give up capabilities that every other advanced nation has. And those nations don’t have nearly the number of legal protections for citizens that the US does. In other words, despite what Putin tells you, the Russian security services, the FSB, has more power in regards to Russian citizens than the NSA has ever had in regards to Americans. American intelligence spies on allies? This is news? Ancient news, yes. Written about decades ago.  How can one be a whistleblower on information on which whistles were blown so long ago?
Sift through the thousands of documents on the internet, I mean documents released directly from American intelligence or State Department servers, to Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. Find me one, just one, document that relates directly the contents of a conversation or an email from a US citizen that does not involve a foreign national. Where are Petraeus’ emails? The supreme court justices’? You’ll find generalities and inane information–because the NSA was not reading Petaeus’ email. It was the FBI, not the NSA that looked at Petraeus’ email. But any company’s network technician has the ability to mine old Outlook emails for examination. This was not hyper-advanced technology, nor was it the NSA.  And the NSA is most assuredly are not reading the emails of the pimply-faced computer geek with a GED, no job, and thousands of hours logged on YouTube. But when Russia releases its own intercepts of the cell phone conversations of our ambassadors, where’s the outrage?

We’re fully hypnotized by the decades of propaganda handed us from foreign intelligence services and our own intelligentsia. The end of course, is not far off, and the self-immolation has already begun. Defected Russian agents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and others who lived under the Soviet regime were routine agape at the credulity and instinct to self destruct in the West, the urgent desire in the West to give away everything that had been built.

But enough of this. What I really want to talk about is the trail of lies that Snowden left behind him. All through Snowden’s life and career there is evidence of his lying and fibbing to get what he wants. Some of these stories are admitted lies on his part. Others are suspicious to those who know better.

Let’s look at the questionable statements or activities by Snowden:

  • It’s believed that Snowden used to post under the screen name, The TrueHOOHA on Ars Technica. On the forum at Ars Technica, Snowden, writing anonymously, says that those who leak classified information should be “shot in the balls.” He criticizes the NY Times for repeatedly running stories about leaked classified reports.

 

Narcissist: Snowden was looking to feel important long before his days at NSA

 

  •  Snowden recruited into the US Army in the 18 X program, in which people can enter the Army for Special Forces training. He did not complete the training, and was discharged. Snowden says he broke both his legs in a training accident. Sure he did.
  • Snowden is obsessed with making up implausible stories. He stated that while he worked for the CIA, that the CIA got a Swiss banker drunk, and after his arrest told him that the CIA would help him if he’d cooperate in advancing American interests.  Ueli Maurer, the Swiss Federal Council President says this story is dubious.
  • While working as a system admin for the CIA, he was suspected of trying to access classified systems he was not authorized to view. Snowden says he was trying to report flaws in the system; again making himself out to be the hero.
  • Snowden says he specifically sought employment at NSA so that he could leak intelligence. How can a person be justified in leaking when they seek to release info of which they can’t possibly know the content?
  • Snowden, in a fantastically selfish act, obtained the passwords of 20-25 coworkers at NSA, telling them he needed them as part of his job as an admin. He used these passwords to obtain the classified data with which he later helped the Russians, but which harmed Americans. Snowden, again lying, says he didn’t steal passwords. Multiple reports say he did. He wants us to believe he’s a super hacker. In reality he’s a schemer who threw people he worked with under the bus to satisfy his massive ego. And he continues to lie about it.
  • Apparently, Snowden was never even qualified to have the job he used to shaft America. His resume claimed he took  computer classes at John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He claimed he was close to getting a Master’s degree. None of it was true. 

But of course, Americans now obsessed with conspiracy believe what Snowden says about the NSA. They also believe what this GED-holding liar says about the Constitutionality of it all, as if he’s now not only a master spy, but a legal expert. Snowden, like Putin, masterfully plays to the psychic infantalism so common in America, particularly on the internet and in the minds of those who favor Ron Paul.