Thursday, August 8, 2013

"The NSA's digital dragnet is a silent coup"

W.W. Houston:

The Secret police—the NSA, the CIA, et al—are by their very nature antithetical [to democratic legitimacy], because openness and transparency about rules are essential to democratic public justification, and therefore to the legitimacy of state power. What must be secret cannot be fully democratic. One may well worry whether we can afford such a demanding standard of legitimate government in such a dangerous world. Perhaps we cannot. Perhaps it is foolish to be too good. But in that case we need to be clear-headed about it, and understand that secret police are a straightforwardly anti-democratic concession we make to a dangerous world. And we ought to accept that any strengthening of the powers of the secret police—especially the secret strengthening of the powers of the secret police—is a further blow to democracy and the legitimacy of our laws. The NSA's digital dragnet is a silent coup.

Precisely. What we are experiencing in America with the massive collection of personal data is just that-- a silent coup.

The government has been suppressing opponents for at least several years. The deliberate covert actions by the IRS (and the FBI/EPA/OSHA/ATF) to suppress Tea Party activity that began after the massive Tea Party victories in 2010 is a coup-- the illegal seizure of power by a faction of government-- plain and simple.

We must not underestimate the gravity of what is happening. 


  1. Stop bitching, start a revolution, doc.


    1. Hoo,
      It has already begun. Mike is just stating on what side of history he finds himself.
      Let's all hope it is not a nasty affair and can be dealt with legally and through peaceful means.

    2. Gen. Ben Ghazi, Clintoon Defense ForcesAugust 8, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      Hoots: "Stop bitching..."

      That's a hoot, Hoots, coming from you.

  2. Obviously, from my own perspective I see the need for real security and a well tuned intelligence gathering machine. I see it as an integral part of the defence of any nation or alliance. We need intel and cointel, as distasteful as some of it can be.

    But, that is not what I see happening. I see a shift that is unprecedented and extremely worrying.
    The shift is from human intelligence gathering on specified legal, strategic targets that pose a real threat to the common good to a 'dragnet' (as the post implies) of technological devices that collect data from literally hundreds of millions of sources without any sort of real oversight. I see the 'guns' of the intelligence network being turned INWARD and fully AUTOMATED. The human decision making process is being minimized to command. That leaves the power highly concentrated and removes en mass the filter of human, moral judgement from the equation of any given action taken.
    What this all amounts to is a circumventing of the US constitution.
    A coup? Perhaps.
    Perhaps that is already long done, and what we are seeing is the new rulers new means of control: Fear and intimidation. The big chill.
    The potential for abuse of any system like this is staggering; and of course the current SIGINT system itself is an abuse of the laws and society it touted to protect.
    I have often been asked why I, as a military mind, would oppose precisely this kind of draconian measure. It is really quite simple. I, and millions like me, became part of the defence apparatus in order to defend something - an ideal. That ideal could be summed up as to protect the freedoms and traditional way of life of my people. If that ideal is sacrificed in order to protect the power establishment in the name of general security, what exactly am I (or the millions like me) left defending? I swore an oath to defend our freedoms and traditions, not a faceless crowd of kleptocrats who deem returning veterans 'high risk' on their 'terror lists'.
    There is hope, still. There are still many, many good people in these organizations and in the forces. They will continue to 'blow the whistle'. But the hope does not lay in their ability to do so, as that will diminish as time goes on. It lays with the DESIRE of the PEOPLE to react and DEMAND action be taken against those in power who seek to pursue this trend towards overt tyranny. The citizens must become aware of what is happening and call those responsible accountable. Until that happens the machine will grow and consolidate. The shift from Republic to Empire will seem minor in comparison to the next shift from Empire to Tyranny.
    Gravity is an excellent term to use, Mike.

  3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyAugust 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    The current problem is that the intelligence community is being run by individuals of limited intelligence. For example, a current Cabinet Secretary believes that the "life chances" of individuals is determined by zip code. That's as risible as previous administration's belief that owning a house causes increased social responsibility:

    Homeownership helps stabilize neighborhoods and strengthen communities... Financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, should address [...] financial barriers to homeownership.
    --- The National Homeownership Strategy (HUD, 1995)

    Creative financing... we know where that led, don't we? Can you say "liar loan"? "Balloon payment"? "Interest only adjustable rate"? "Zero down payment"? "Global financial collapse"?

    Great idea, Bubba! Those Oval Office BJs get the juices flowing, don't they? And disbarment is so liberating.

    And, of course, the Lackwit Administration has now established a propaganda organ with the Orwellian name, Behavioral Insights Team. Their job will be to promote and "influence" individuals to live their lives the way government genius has decided they should live their lives. After all, there's no such thing a free will anyway, and the meat machines at the bottom (formerly known as the lumpenproletariat) need a "nudge" from the cattle prods of low-level bureaucrats like the TSA drones you see in airports.

    It's all for your own good, you know.

    My advice: make sure you own property abroad. You might need it.

    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyAugust 8, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      Just a follow-up on the intelligence of the intelligence masters:

      If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs. Businesses won’t locate here.
      --- Barack Obama

      President Lackwit must have hired Popeye for his Maritime Advisor.

    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyAugust 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      One more (maybe) follow-up:

      A document has been leaked entitled "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gun Propaganda". No, wait! I copied that down wrong. It's actually entitled "Preventing Gun Violence With Hysterical Propaganda". Oh gosh! I messed up again! It's titled "Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging". Whew!

      It was written for Boom!berg's Mayors Who Hate Armed Citizens lobbying group.

      There's a section entitled "Waving the Bloody Shirt"... no, dammit, I got that wrong. Maybe Hooter's hoots about the aging thing were right. It's entitled "Overall Messaging Guidance", and here are a few excerpts (caps in original):




      You get the picture, right?

      In fact, readers of Egnor's VRWC blog have seen some of those tactics used in the comment threads; used by independent thinking, highly-informed Proglodyte parrots.

      By the way, the entire document can be downloaded here. At least for now. It's been blinking in and out from various sites.

  4. And where has their been consistent opposition to "the massive collection of personal data is just that -- a silent coup"? The Left and the Right have been too partisan, objecting to government violations of civil liberties only when it's conducted by their opponents.

    IMO, Libertarians have been the only consistent, vocal opponents of the National Security State (the domestic wing of the American Empire).

    One prominent voice has been Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Here's his latest column: "Domestic Spying Is Dangerous to Freedom".

    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyAugust 8, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      Anon: "IMO, Libertarians have been the only consistent, vocal opponents of the National Security State..."

      That's not just your opinion, it's a fact.

    2. Other libertarians who've consistently voiced their opposition to the National Security State are: Bob Higgs and Anthony Gregory, both affiliated with The Independent Institute in Oakland.

      The II's Mission "is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity."

    3. Libertarians who offer delightfully entertaining videos on vital topics include Julie Borowski, AKA Libertarian Girl and Remy Munasifi.

      For some laughs, check out these two short, NSA-related videos:
      - Julie's "NSA Surveillance: Don't Care. I've Got Nothing to Hide" (2:57; 105K views)
      - Remy's "Tap It: The NSA Slow Jam" (2:47; 214K views)