Monday, June 24, 2013

On Snowden

 Glenn Greenwald from the UK Guardian:

On the Espionage Act charges against Edward Snowden

Who is actually bringing 'injury to America': those who are secretly building a massive surveillance system or those who inform citizens that it's being done?

... The Obama administration leaks classified information continuously. They do it to glorify the President, or manipulate public opinion, or even to help produce a pre-election propaganda film about the Osama bin Laden raid. The Obama administration does not hate unauthorized leaks of classified information. They are more responsible for such leaks than anyone.

What they hate are leaks that embarrass them or expose their wrongdoing. Those are the only kinds of leaks that are prosecuted. It's a completely one-sided and manipulative abuse of secrecy laws. It's all designed to ensure that the only information we as citizens can learn is what they want us to learn because it makes them look good. The only leaks they're interested in severely punishing are those that undermine them politically. The "enemy" they're seeking to keep ignorant with selective and excessive leak prosecutions are not The Terrorists or The Chinese Communists. It's the American people.

The Terrorists already knew, and have long known, that the US government is doing everything possible to surveil their telephonic and internet communications. The Chinese have long known, and have repeatedly said, that the US is hacking into both their governmental and civilian systems (just as the Chinese are doing to the US). The Russians have long known that the US and UK try to intercept the conversations of their leaders just as the Russians do to the US and the UK.

They haven't learned anything from these disclosures that they didn't already well know. The people who have learned things they didn't already know are American citizens who have no connection to terrorism or foreign intelligence, as well as hundreds of millions of citizens around the world about whom the same is true. What they have learned is that the vast bulk of this surveillance apparatus is directed not at the Chinese or Russian governments or the Terrorists, but at them.

And that is precisely why the US government is so furious and will bring its full weight to bear against these disclosures. What has been "harmed" is not the national security of the US but the ability of its political leaders to work against their own citizens and citizens around the world in the dark, with zero transparency or real accountability. If anything is a crime, it's that secret, unaccountable and deceitful behavior: not the shining of light on it. 

Bottom line:
The "enemy" they're seeking to keep ignorant with selective and excessive leak prosecutions are not The Terrorists or The Chinese Communists. It's the American people.

I didn't understand before the IRS scandal and the NSA scandal. I am beginning to understand now. The enemy the U.S. government is most concerned about is the American people.

Pardon Snowden. Pardon Assange. Pardon Manning. They broke the law, but they did it to tell us the truth. They are whistle-blowers and they have done an extraordinary service to the American people.

The government has been breaking the law, on a much more massive scale, and they've broken the law to tell us a lie. I never thought I'd be saying this, but right now I fear our government much more than I fear any leaker. I am, in fact, grateful to the leakers.

What we are dealing with now is serious stuff. We fought a revolution for less.


  1. Instead, the regime is doubling down. This short column discusses Obama's 'Insider Threat' Program a 'Sweeping' Crackdown on Leakers.

    Consider this gem: "Those who fail to expose someone they belief to be a leaker face penalties that include criminal charges."

    Here's the full story.

    1. I already heard about that so-called Insider Threat Program. They want government employees to snitch on their friends. Supposedly it's to protect our military and agents working under cover, but for some reason it also applies to the Department of Agriculture and the Social Security Administration.

      I'm not for pardoning Manning, Assange, or Snowden. I don't even know what you could charge Assange with, considering he's not an American citizen. I am, however, for prosecuting the crooks in government to the highest extent of the law. That means Obama, Holder, Clapper, and Bush. Politicians are going to continue breaking the law until we start holding them accountable.

      And while you're at it, charge Petraeus. He leaked classified information to his mistress while she was writing his book.


    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 24, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      @JQ: "I already heard about that so-called Insider Threat Program. They want government employees to snitch on their friends."

      They call them snouts, and we've already had a taste of that around here with our very own little piggy, Mathoo, threatening Egnor to inform SUNY about his political heresies. His quivering little snout is always up somebody's butt.

      On a more general level, the care and feeding of a bottom-dwelling caste of bootlickers whose job is to destroy social bonds and isolate citizens through paranoia is a necessary expense for totalitarians. The East Germans even had a corps of snouts who were responsible for picking through people's garbage to find forbidden items or evidence of counter-revolutionary tendencies.

      Interestingly, the cultivation of informant networks is the perfect opposite of the Christian concept of community. A Christian community is ideally cemented with the bonds of trust and mutual respect. In that sense, one could correctly call the deliberate promotion of paranoia an evil act. Not just bad, but evil.

    3. Let's not forget Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont. He's a leaker. And then there's Sandy Berger, the former counterterrorism chief who got caught sticking classified documents in his draws. He got a slap on the wrist.

      Apply the laws equally across the board, no special favors for powerful people.

      The Torch

  2. Another deep and meaningful response mingled with reference to fellatio (his favourite sport!) from the master.

  3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 24, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    He only talks that way to people self-identified as Christians, and only "anonymously" on the web. Revealing, eh?

  4. Dr Egnor,

    "Pardon Snowden. Pardon Assange. Pardon Manning. They broke the law, but they did it to tell us the truth. They are whistle-blowers and they have done an extraordinary service to the American people."

    While I agree with the sentiment, I do not think anything like this is even remotely possible with the current regime in place. Rather, an example will be made when possible in order to set to dissuade (once again) the very concept of whistle blowing. Intimidation is the name of the game here.
    IMO, I think this will turn the traditional whistle blower into 'defectors'.
    In one swoop robbing the American people of that power over it's government and creating cartoon like portrayals (in the PR industry that is the husk of the media) of villains to fear, and hence justify even further levels of 'security' protocol.

    "We fought a revolution for less."
    For far less and against an enemy of much higher principal and much shorter reach into the personal lives of citizens.
    If this mess is not corrected soon and some of the architects not called to task/judgement this will be the undoing of the experiment that is America. She will take the road of all previous republics to Empire and eventual overt tyranny. Currently we see Pompey and Caesar wrestle for approval. We may see an Augustus in the meantime, but we will eventually get to very own our Nero or Gaius.
    The mechanism for this transition is now in place, the reactions prepared for. All that is required is the people with the will to force the synthesis. Such people seem to be legion, currently.
    I pray that this hubristic effort fails before the path is an irreversible one.
    I do, however, have faith that ultimately these power grabs will fail. But, if left to long America herself will fail with them and with her the life ambitions of hundreds of millions - if not billions. The cost of this mad synthesis is beyond reckoning.

  5. Get a donate-whatever-you-can (or even free) DVD of the new documentary "War on Whistleblowers". Watch the trailer.

  6. Adm.

    Indeed! Of course one has to wonder if Bach or Hoo were to be openly critical of his approach (LOL!) how he would respond. Would silence and sulking ensue? Or, alternately, would his sophomoric vitriol be spent on them?
    It would be fascinating to see.
    Bach & Hoo: If you're out there and willing to counter this horrible image that Troy presents of your camp(s) (materialists, liberals etc) why not openly challenge his style and let's see what the 'data' reveals?
    A challenge to you, Gentlemen!

  7. Glenn Greenwald offers a brilliant defense of Snowden (and himself!) in a 2-part spirited debate with regime lapdog David Gregory here and here.

  8. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 24, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    @Torch: "I wish he would keep his fantasies to himself."

    He can't. Exhibitionism and frottage are the fantasy. Oh, and shoes. I almost forgot the shoes.

  9. Crus,

    Fair enough. I feel that troy's comment went way over the line. I am not a believer, but I do not think that mocking a religion is a good idea.


  10. If Snowden limited his whistle blowing to 4th amendment issues I might agree with Egnor, but his revelations go far beyond 4th amendment issues, and he is on a world tour of our strategic adversaries carrying 4 laptops worth of NSA Secrets. By his own admission he took the job at Booz Allen to gather evidence for dissemination to “the whole world”. Terrorist now effectively have the blueprints of our surveillance program and are sure to adjust their methods accordingly. Although I somewhat sympathize with him, Snowden is a traitor who has severely compromised national security and should be treated as such.


    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 24, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Popeye, do you honestly believe that would-be terrorists weren't already aware of wiretapping, keyword recognition, latent pattern extraction, satellite and drone surveillance, etc, etc?

      This may come as a surprise to you, but not all these demented Islamists are backwater-raised fanatics. many of their number are trained scientists and engineers who attended premier graduate schools in Western Europe and North America. These people are not fools. They knew far more about how all this works than the average American millennial, who has difficulty with compound interest and finds him- or herself amazed that the government routinely tracks her movements, archives her mail, and records her conversations.

      As it happens, I partially agree with President Lackwit's disclaimer about being like Dick Cheney. The Preezy has the same tendencies, but lacks the brains and character.

    2. Wow, I find myself agreeing with KW. This is weird.


    3. Ben, I’ve noticed that people’s reaction to Snowden has been fairly non partisan, and much of the seemingly partisan reaction seems to feature quite a bit of role reversal. People are all over the place on this one.

      Admiral, use your head. The steps necessary to get detailed intelligence have been laid out for all to see. At the very least terrorists may no have a good idea how long they may have to recover from a slipup in operational security. They now also know the extent that foreign servers have been hacked.

      We’ve also lost any chance of taking the moral high ground regarding hostile Chinese cyber activity, because we can’t deny that we are doing what the Chinese will say is much the same thing.

      You strike me as one of the people that are flipped around on this issue because of the fear mongering of your idol Glenn beck and those like him. Try putting your country before politics for once.


    4. Because of Snowden, Terrorists may now be able to relax some of their security procedures because they know that the NSA is not doing key-word searches of every call to a United States phone. Snowden has potentially given the terrorists a reason to breathe a big sigh of relief while the plan ways to make their communications more effective.


    5. Well no shock at all, I find myself agreeing with the Doctor and the Admiral.
      Having been in the 'business' for years (military, not alphabet) and read reams of testimony from whistle blowers (increasingly persecuted), I know damn well there is nothing in the releases (at least so far) that compromise ANYTHING to the enemy. Everything that has been released (by all of the above) is well known to them. Much of the substance of the leaks are used regularly in their propaganda.

      The only 'shock' value here is (should be) for the people of the United States and her allies. Specifically those of us in the 'Five Eyes' nations. Unfortunately, it seems, most are too sedate to recognize this monstrosity for what it is. Instead, they 'trust' that it will only be used for honourable and reasonable purposes.
      As I have stated many times: I believe in a comprehensive security regime. I believe intelligence capacity is critical. I have seen what real human intelligence is capable of when directed properly. I have been part of it.
      But (and it's a BIG but), I do not think these weapons of war and espionage should EVER be focused on the populace at large. Nor do I think relying on machines to determine (run, effectively) our data gathering is even remotely sane. Such a method is counter productive and only useful if the powers WANT perennial conflict. Ask any soldier, airman, tar, or officer - NONE of us want constant war. We're the ones who have to DIE in them. And if we are to make that ultimate sacrifice, it has to be for something we believe in - not simply fear.

  11. I'm pretty sure I haven't hurt anyone's feelings with my vulgar comment, so I feel no need to apologize. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to condemn someone to an eternity of suffering, yet the religious zealots on here seem to have no problem with that. Unless of course, deep down, they know it's bollocks too.

  12. Hoo,

    You have my thanks. We may disagree on many things, but at least we can agree on basic decency. That is extremely important to me. Again, I appreciate your comment and echo the sentiment. I too feel there is no need to mock another deeply held beliefs. It serves no purpose but to destroy any sort of reasonable exchange of ideas.

  13. Troy,

    I don't know why I bother, but I will try to communicate with you like an adult....perhaps for the last time.

    "I'm pretty sure I haven't hurt anyone's feelings with my vulgar comment, so I feel no need to apologize. "
    It's not about feelings, it's about decency and the ability to communicate ideas. Your comment was a deliberately offensive conversation killer. People of many ideas come here to debate and share. Your comment was a poison distraction. The apology, should you man up enough to make it should be to ALL concerned - including the atheists who you have grossly misrepresented here.

    "I can't even imagine what it must feel like to condemn someone to an eternity of suffering, yet the religious zealots on here seem to have no problem with that. "
    When have I condemned you to your simplistic view of hell? How could I? The very concept is ridiculous. Hell is not for internet fools and angry youths and I am not the Divine- it is for the very worst of souls and the most foul forces in existence. What you suggest people have done is blasphemy. You accuse them of pretending to know the limits of God's mercy.
    It is choice made by them, not by me. Do I think you will suffer for eternity? I have no idea of what you have done in your life to deserve such a state.
    TBH, I would think there is more of a chance of myself meeting such a fate, given your cartoonish model. But I don't believe in your model. You have mistaken allegory and symbolism (like Dante) for faith in Love and Mercy. You are not holding a dialogue with westboro bigots or Jihadists.

    Here's a question for you: If you should find yourself in a 'judgement' type situation in some other extension of reality (during/post death), freed from all earthly desires and facing the 'undiscovered country' beyond - would you STILL deny Love it's primacy and revel in your sins? Would you howl like Milton's Satan while defending your errors and blaming God himself for them, or would you realize your errors and faults and repent of the wrongs you have done?

    "Unless of course, deep down, they know it's bollocks too."
    See above. You're fighting a straw man; a caricature. A view only held by bigots and charlatans who dress themselves as Christian (or whatever).

  14. Why all the conservative outrage now? The Admiral admits programs like this where a safe assumption well before Snowden came along. Where were you when Civil libertarians where denouncing the patriot act and bitching about the FISA court? I’ll tell you, you where cheerleading for it! Now it’s all just politics, and politics before country at that.


    1. KW,

      I was right where I am now. I thought the patriot act was going way overboard and opposed our own version (it was defeated). Further, I think the NDAA makes the patriot act look like a silly joke. Some may argue they are 'better than nothing', but I would disagree. They are analogous to hiring a drunk using a reciolless rifle (80mm) to hunt pigeons in a city park in order to save the trees and architecture. They effectively reduce what your are trying to defend.
      I don't care what team the machine is run by - or more accurately: Is running. But then I do not call myself a 'Conservative' or a 'Liberal'.