Why should we believe the NSA now?
For the third time in two weeks, we learned about yet another NSA spying program. First we heard about the agency tapping the phones of world leaders. Then we learned about them collecting data on Europeans. And now, we find out that the NSA has broken into the main communication links of Yahoo and Google. New documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowed show that the National Security Agency has infiltrated communication hubs, and positioned themselves to collect data on millions of users – including Americans. And, this isn't just the metadata that we've previously learned about – this is content.
The top-secret documents show that so-called “field collectors” are scooping up information including who sent and received an email, and any content it contained – including text, audio, and video. The NSA released a statement about this revelation, saying that the agency is only “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets.” However, it's hard to accept them at their word after learning about this program.
They said our data wasn't be collected – and we found out is was. They said they weren't collecting content – and we found out that they are. Everything that they have told us has been a lie, so why should anyone believe them now when they say that they're only spying on potential terrorists?
Very well said, Mark Saulys! And very true! Very good points.
My family comes from what used to be a Soviet Socialist Republic. My mother and father were refugees of WW II. When we used to visit family in the U.S.S.R. my father would like to find, pull out and show us the hidden microphones in the hotel room. When we took photographs we commonly had a couple of not very well blended in guys in the background of each one, plainly the spies assigned to following us. When we went someplace - like a relatives home - without calling ahead or telling anyone we were coming we found that we were expected.
We would remark at how opposite that was to life in the United States and the West where the authorities were kept in check by democracy and such things didn't happen. How that was our freedom from Big Brother and surveillance by the authorities in contrast to the police state that was the Soviet Bloc.
When the Berlin Wall fell and the Stasi's records were opened we in the West marveled in horror at the totalitarianism.
In the United States, however, it wasn't quite as we liked to think. There were always, in the 20th century, pretexts for suspending the Constitution "just this once" or for just this one exceptional ocassion which always wound up being more the rule than the exception resulting effectively in a militaristic police state. The enemy was just so cunning and so insiduous and the threat just so terrible that we "just had to" make an exception in this case and dispense with constitutional rights of the people and the sovreignity of other nations.
Various Red Scares provided this pretext. The communists were "just so" all the above that we "just had to" do McCarthyistic purges of dissident intellectuals and more common people. We "just had to" do COINTELPRO; we "just had to" send the police and FBI to attack like thugs or arrest and imprison on bogus charges with bogus, ill gotten evidence all the labor organizers, peace activists and environmentalists. We just had to engineer a coup of a democratically elected government of Guatemala that only wanted to impliment a New Deal style democracy, or something similar in the Congo or Chile and we "just had to" invade Viet Nam. Remarkable coincidence that in each case our action prevented (with exception of Viet Nam) the self determination of these nations and continued the colonial relationship in which they were in service to us (the U.S. and Western Europe) and working as coolies to support our extravagant lifestyles. (The Soviets, of course, did something similar the only difference being that they colonized other white people as the Hungarians, the Poles, the Czechoslovakians, etc..That, of course, was just plain barbaric of them. If they had only colonized people of color like we in the U.S. and Europe we wouldn't have - couldn't have - objected.)
After the Berlin Wall fell we no longer had the pretext of Communism to violate the U.S. Constitution and the sovreignity of nations. We needed a new pretext. Thus the "War on Drugs" replaced the Cold War.. George H. W. Bush announced a "zero tolerance policy" for drugs in the U.S. and drugs were just "so terrible" that we "just had to" give the police and federal authorities power to ignore constitutional rights to catch drug dealers and give our foreign policy establishment the liscence to ignore international law. It became overly generous to provide accused traffickers a fair trial or any of the standard "rights of the accused" (whose purpose is to prevent the innocent from being wrongfully convicted and punished).
When we wanted to invade Panama - remarkably about the time the canal treaty was to expire - we couldn't say we were fighting "Communism" anymore so Panama was a "narcodictatorship". Manuel Noriega was tried in secret with "secret evidence" against him and wasn't allowed to introduce as evidence the fact that he was almost always acting on the instructions of the U.S. government.
Then came 9/11. The "War on Drugs" faded from our minds, it wasn't needed anymore.
Trust of the government is absurd. Arguing that we don't need constitutional protections if we have a "good king" is silly. Whereas, that may be somewhat true as long as the good king is king and as long as he is good, NOBODY is good ALL the time and the potential for abuse in totalitarian spying is infinitely great.
Similarly, to argue that any particular moment of crisis is a time for giving up, however temporarily, the Bill of Rights is mostly fallacious. It is precisely in those times of crisis and mass hysteria when the Constitution is needed most.
It should also be remembered that the Weimar Republic became the Third Reich through the ceding of "emergency powers" to the executive branch of the German government after the burning of the Reichstag.
Mark Saulys ~ Thank you for that sobering insight. I agree with every word. Very well said. I might add a couple of links I posted yesterday that really drive your points home. The first is an interview with Dr. Francis Boyle who helped convict GW Bush for war crimes in an international court in Kuala, Lumpur, Malaysia. His commentary at the end of the interview about the sorry, near-police state we are allowing to occur is most enlightening.
To punch home his point, Dr. Boyle recommends that we educate ourselves free of the influence of the Mainstream Media in order to defend against the coming police state. He says that martial law was already practiced in Boston Massachusetts during the recent bombings and that escaped the MM attention. (In that respect we appear to be following his advice here on this blog at least.) If we don't take steps to organize and protect our Constitutional rights we can expect the images of Boston to become the norm in US cities across the nation in the near future. For those folks who may have missed it, here are some of those images:
The Obama Administration justified this blatant violation of The Constitution to look for two kids with homemade bombs in their backpacks. If a Constitutional Law Professor could sink this low for such a trivial reason, imagine what he--or any other human President--might be capable of in response to a real emergency--regardless of whether or not it is a true emergency; or, a conveniently fabricated one.
Of course we can't believe the NSA. These spooks lie for a living, it's their career. They have high level meetings in sound proof conference rooms to concoct bigger, more intricate lies. The entire apparatus needs to be taken apart and scattered to the winds in the interest of national security and the general welfare of the people.
Be careful though. We're approaching the 50th anniversary of the last guy who seriously threatened the criminals in Spookville and they murdered him quickly and completely. If there's one thing they're better at than lying it's murder.
You were right a few weeks ago when you said that we citizens have a need and a right to being anonymous in that is how our rights came about in the first place. If the King had known everything about everybody there would have been no Tea Party (the real one), no Revolution, no Constitution and no American Flag.
Well, you're preaching to the choir, Thom, but it's good to remember that governments lie. And good people, often for good reasons, do bad things. An informed and active citizenry is often the only thuing that stops these trends from getting completely out of hand. And in America today far too few people seem to be both informed and active. Perhaps the outrage will build, but it really hasn't yet--as you've pointed out, many folks are too busy worrying about their jobs, working too many hours, or too distracted to get involved. Or are just scared of the "homeland" (gag on that term) police. Then too as an educator I'd say the lack of understanding that many younger people have of their rights and duties as citizens is truly breathtaking. When people feel powerless, they are powerless. (Which is how many dictatorships grow and continue.)
The converse is also true, which is how many genuine revolutions start. Reich put it well in "The Greening of America" when he said that once a person woke up he or she could never turn off their mind again. Sometimes it's a big event that breaks trust--the 1905 massacre in St. Petersburg was the start of the end for the Czar. We haven't reached that point here, but who knows what "social Chernobyl" could still happen, and maybe the NSA revelations (old news to many of us) are a start.
Meanwhile there is so much to loudly ask about. The drone strikes, with their endless reports of killing enemy "operatives" is a good example. Does anyone really believe this Vietnam War type of body count anymore? (Even earlier it didn't work; in WW2 a friend kept track of US reports of what casualties we inflicted on the Wehrmacht. Apparently we wiped out the entire German army 2 1/2 times over!) The point is that we can keep bringing up these types of questions. Perhaps in time enough people will listen to force some real change. Because as the current incumbent showed, any such thing will come from the bottom up, not the top down.
Quote Wendalore:Sorry to talk on a different subject. I asked a question on Thom's show about an hour or something ago, on what's the difference between Medicare Advange and Medicare Suplement.
Wendalore ~ I believe Medicare Advantage (MA) is the latest optional package of Medicare that is available to people 65 years and older. It is a Federally operated program funded by the taxpayer. Medicare Supplement (aka Medigap) Is any private insurance that you can purchase if you are 65 or older that furnishes additional benefits for your standard Medicare package. AARP Supplemental insurance is probably the best example of a Medicare Supplement. I hope that answers your questions. Further details are available online from Wikipedia.
I believe the way it works is that you can have Medicare--or Medicare Advantage--without any Medicare supplement; however, to qualify for a Medicare Supplement you have to first have Medicare.
Wendalore -- I have medicare Plan B (and A of course). I also have an Anthem medigap coverage My medigap plan pays the co-pay but not the medicare deductible of Plan B.
I talked to SCAN about their plan, a medicare advantage plan. My main problem with their plan is that I did not get to see my doctors that I have had for years. With medicare and medigap I do get to see my doctors.
NSA is abusing their powers and no one is going to do anything about it. I believe that it is too late and we are screwed. Don't have anything that could be considered subversive, etc but do not think they have a right to listen/copy anything/anywhere that I say or do without a warrant but it appears that is never going to happen now. It has gone on too long and is now entrenched in our government's way of doing things.That said, I WILL continue to bitch, say what I want and curse the NSA, CIA, FBI and whatever other alphabet soup group I want to and if that is a problem for them, oh well!! Guess I will take my chances. I am an elderly (according to some LOL) white, female with liberal tenants as well as a definite beliefe in my 2nd amendment rights to own/shoot my weapons legally. I agree with the death penalty ONLY in cases where there is DEFINITE PROOF that the crime was committed by the individual - such as Jack Ruby with Lee Harvey Oswald, etc. I despise most of the right wing nut jobs on SCOTUS and believe that they should be impeached and think most lawyers are the scum of the earth. The police have become too powerful and are not much better than the crooks. They can no longer react in time to prevent crime but only have reactive duties to take reports, call the morgue, try (not very hard, though) to solve crimes and commit a lot of them themselves. Snlowden and Manning both should be touted as great guys for opening our eyes to what our government and reporters (??) are supposed to. But, reporters are a thing of the past except for a few such a Glenn Greenwald who still have come journalistic morality to tell the truth and provide the citizens with the truth.
Hopefully I won't be censored for this but if so. Oh Well. FUCK THE NSA!!!
You can't stop an autocracy from exercising a power one obtained. The only solution is to shut off the autocratic people, whoever they might be.
Regarding the military lockdown martial law exercized in Boston last April:
Graham Fuller denies any involvement, like any good CIA operative would.
Quote bobcox:You can't stop an autocracy from exercising a power one obtained. The only solution is to shut off the autocratic people, whoever they might be.
bobcox ~ Very sage advice indeed. Perhaps we have centralized too much power under the Executive Branch of the Government. As the assassination of JFK showed, when too much power is in that hands of one man and that one man tries to make massive positive changes for the multitude, then he poses too much of a threat to the ruling powers and has to be eliminated. If that one man serves the interest of the ruling powers, then he becomes too much of a threat to the the multitude, and has to be eliminated. Perhaps the final solution might be to eliminate the Executive Branch all together as we know it. After all, when it was created originally our Republic was much smaller and afforded the President much less power than he wields today.
What I might suggest is to replace the Executive office with an Executive Council. The Council would have thirteen members, twelve general members and one Council Chairperson elected from the main thirteen districts across the country. (The thirteen districts don't exist yet. We will have to create them.) The Council Chairperson rotates amongst the the thirteen every twelve weeks. The Council will hold all the powers and responsibilities of the current Executive Branch. Each Council member will have their own team of advisers or Kitchen Cabinet if you will. Each member will have one vote on each law or action placed before them. A majority of seven votes is a passing vote or a veto. Each member is elected by a majority of their own districts they represent. As such each member has to answer to a different constituency of the country. No one member is entrusted with all the Executive Powers. They share them equally. All members are limited to a term of 3 years, with only a one time reelection possible.
That might help to shut off the autocratic people regardless of who they might be. It would be far more difficult to control a council of thirteen then it is to control one man. (By the way, if you are wondering, the council of thirteen is not my original idea. I borrowed it from the New Testament. It seemed to work well for Christianity. It might work equally as well for Democracy.)
Mark, thank you for sharing such a profoundly unique perspective. Hats off to you, brother... - AIW
Right on, sister! "Alphabet soup groups"... fuck'em all. Some of us won't be scared or complacent, no matter what they do! And you're right about Glenn Greenwald; now, there's a real journalist for ya. I salute each and every kindred spirit out there... - AIW
Chuckle- reading your post, I can only shake my head. What a stupid, inefficient, cumbersome system of healthcare delivery this is! All these hoops & hurdles and bureaucratic waste for us to have to navigate through, just so that profits can be made at our expense. God bless America. - AIW
Great posts! You guys are on a roll with this topic. The little fascists can chain our bodies but not our spirits. - AIW
Wendalore -- I listen to Thom via podcasts, so I am always behind by at least a day. If you are in the State of Washington, Wendell Potter said they have one of the only Medicare Advantage plans in the US that he would recommend. Whas the name SHINE or something like that.
DAnneMarc -- You really need to read Thom's book "Ultimate Sacrifice", I didn't, but you should. I think Thom says something like JFK used the mafia to assist in the "Bay of Pigs". This led to the mafia eliminating JFK. That book is like 850 pgs.
I kind of like the NLRB and ACLU alphabet soup.
How easy was it for government agencies to breech the product security defenses of Google? This question comes up for me because of the following--
On a few occassions I've read posts and referrals to GOOGLE as actually being a project of the shadowy USA agencies sector. Mentioned is that the mother of one of the founder's of GOOGLE was herself in the employ of such an agency (NASA), and that the GOOGLE headquarters was physically situated near government resources and even used government air transportation. The message was that GOOGLE's rapid hi-tech rise was somehow a result of publicly-funded innovation and understanding and assistance.
Anybody have anything further on this either to build on or deconstruct/disprove this?
Just curious about it. Because if there is anything to it, then making a situation like we are learning about now makes it look like Google has been 'victimized' -- which could serve the function of trying to create an image of a Google separate from government. So that's how I am trying to sort this out from the speculation perspective....
Your potent comment is appreciated by this reader.
Apparently, the national security state considers anyone capable of independent thinking a potential 'terrorist'. We can't be disabled by propaganda, so they have to know what else is on our minds. So far, though, they can't tap into our brain waves, but don't assume they aren't trying to find the technology that makes it possible!
Sorry to talk on a different subject. I asked a question on Thom's show about an hour or something ago, on what's the difference between Medicare Advange and Medicare Suplement. And when I finished asking Thom, and he went to ask Wendell Potter, I got completely cut off and did not hear my answer. Plus every time I call back, it's "busy." No one in the chat room was paying much attention and they don't know. Anyone who was listening or who knows, could you answer me? And I'll check back later. Thanks!