Thursday, June 6, 2013

Surveillance State

Between today's news and yesterday's news, I'd say we're looking at the tip of the iceberg.


Mr. Clippy said...

Amongst the outrage, thd sudden realization: WTF, AOL still exists??

Mr. Clippy said...

Amongst the outrage, thd sudden realization: WTF, AOL still exists??

Anonymous said...

Notice the very evil microsoft corporation led the pack.

I know people who worked for this digital IG Farben, and they have some explaining to do.

Particularly since they happened to be some of the most vocal opponents of free political speech on the web.


Clap On Clap Off said...

Rather then address the American people today, the President is speaking at a Democratic fundraiser. In Silicon Valley. How perfect is that symbolism?

I notice that the Democrats and the media are trying to talk about "privacy concerns" now rather than "violations of the Fourth Amendment."

Once again, the elites are ignoring the Bill of Rights, allowing criminals like James Clapper to preen on the front page of the Times.

Who watches the watchers?

Cheerio said...

Oh great. Now it turns out Obama and the corporations were shopping our digital information around the world:

Here's the Clapper flapping his mouth again:

"Late Thursday, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement defending the government's collection of phone records, which he said protected the privacy of most Americans. For example, Clapper said only specially trained personnel could access the vast database of metadata collected by the government. "

Notice no mention of outsourcing the Verizon records offshore!

Tip of the bloody iceberg indeed.

Anonymous said...

Now Obama is off to berate Chinese President Xi Jinping for China's hacking abuses, and China's abuse of civil liberties.

Who needs Jon Stewart? You couldn't make this shit up!

Oh joy said...

Corprate America allowed Obama to take 2 questions and talk for 14 minutes to the American people today on surveillance. The New York Times opined that "robust" and apparently suffucient for WE THE PEOPLE.

No 4th Amendment though, just 100% privacy nyuk nyuk.

Impeach the bastard.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that no local politicians--neither Democrats or Republicans--are criticizing Obama for secret corporate collobaration and illegal surveillance.

Hey, wonder why they would want to avoid those topics?

That iceberg may go down very far.

Clapasaurus said...


Oh for fucks sake. I know that the UK has a Stasi like our own, and that UK, Australia and Canada are suffering under right wing politics like our own, but...New Zealand? Kiwis are conducting surveillance on us and their own people?

Were Flight of the Conchords spies?

They did have that suspicious-looking camera phone, and were willing to fight Americans to get it...

Think about it...

Figwit Jihad said...

While it's true that anonymity is not spread consistently across the web, the likelihood is that the NSA is disproportionately spending time on nonthreats, in part because that's what they can most easily be captured. Consider Boston--not exactly a Minority Report moment despite tons of arrows pointing at the brothers. The jihad bros weren't worth valuable NSA time. So what else was going on, that presented fatter and likely less annonymous targets?

I suspect that the NSA-corporations etc are actually not all that interested in halting terrorism, but are passionate about preventing legitimate political dissent. They are looking to shut down political movements, not prevent terrorist attacks. They WANT terrorist attacks, or they lose their excuse for existence.

Consider the fate of both Occupy and the citizen wing of the Tea Party. Much of what federal agencies have done is consistent with illegally obtained data, and almost inexplicable without it. Political movements are by their nature public, and invite participation and information sharing. Thats what both makes them powerful and yet vulnerable to elites acting in secret.

There's a reason both parties have fallen silent on this issue, and on the Fourth Amendment. There's a reason politicians are secretly meeting with corporation while training cameras and bots on us.

ClipClapappotomus said...

Andrew Leonard has a good, if slightly off base column on these issues at Salon.

It's tempting for people to simply say "there is no anonymity or privacy on the web". You get that a lot from techies or poorly socialized assholes like Eric Schmidt or The Clapper or Zuckerman or even Obama. But, even off the web, the question has never been utter secrecy, put privacy FROM whom, FOR whom and how obtained?

And in fact some of the best identity techniques are not technical whatsoever. There are increasingly erroneous assumption among surveillance spooks and their lackeys about the meaning of metadata. To take one example, it doesn't matter much where you post right? Heh.

Think about it indeed.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and of course WHAT is private. Like an IP as identity--by itself, just numbers. Over dramatized, not meaningful, easily misleading. Ahem.

The authoritarian construct is actually relatively fragile, and difficult to maintain. Inevitably it relies on physical violence (as with the Fed suppression of Occupy), or threats of violence (as with Spokane's private guard army) and lies--and all of these realities create identity issues for the authoritarians themselves.

The tendency is downward spiral, doubling down, secrets within secrets, agencies within agencies, greater complexity that actually undermines central authority and results in greater yet less effective state violence, wider credibility gaps between rulers and ruled, compensatory passive resistance, and increasing cults of personality. "The right people" at top rather than process and information for those defined as outsiders/threats by the system itself.

But, where I think we might have a difference is that authoritanism is also inevitably boring, bureaucratic, even if sustained by street violence. Obama is less compelling as an authoritarian than he was as a reformer-democrat, and he can no longer convince that his true identity is the latter. He's the one with the privacy issue, not us. On a larger scale, constitutional democracy which protects privacy FROM government intrusion produces more vibrant culture than Facebook-NSA dossier political structure where the corporations and government actors are hidden.

No pun intended said...

I agree, and you'll agree with this:

The private army of guards isn't just local and is more than just an analog to similar armed paramilitary groups in the "third world." That's because they don't reflect terrorism but the political changes caused by laissez faire authoritarian international trade policies and globalized banking deregulation. We have somehow achieved a proletariat to keep down and an upper caste to be protected. That places pressures on the elites to devalue the vote, which of course is the 2012 election in a nutshell--meaningless as far as issues.

But how far can that go? Even the "right people" philosophy still assumes some semblance of electoral process, but voters must believe that process has value regarding outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Yep, even the small nod to Marx.

I think though that the leaker will not prove a "class traitor," but rather someone with democratic intentions. The effect of leaking a few sheets of paper, even the fact that such sheets existed, may show resiliency for a democracy predicated on the rule of law. The era of believing in pseudorights and pseudoelections is over, though the people may be forced to feign belief as the President and elites continue their little insincere pantomimes.

The era of private cynicism and public misdirection--and class struggle--has only begun.

Anonymous said...

Post-post-structuralism. Post-post-modernism.

Undeconstructuralism? Remodernization?

Hope? Change we can believe in, nyuk.

Deironicalization. Heroism...

Maybe they were actual sheets of paper! Under a flower pot, say. Greenwald in a trench coat walking his dogs, casually looking over his shoulder.

Next up, intellectuals start getting laid again.

SpoKeynes said...

Here's my term: "politically induced stagdevaluation."

Pervasive authoritarian surveillance usually has negative economic consequences. Surveillance increases superficial social conformity and syncophantic psychology, and decreases innovation and trust-based collaboration.

That's particularly a risk for the United States, which will feel the shock of decreased political freedom. A contrast might be the more-surveilled China, which nonetheless had the positive stimulus of increased openess post Tianamen. China, though, has spent that stimulus and imported most of its innovation while exploiting its labor force.

The most innovative US sector, social tech, is also particularly at risk from the loss of trust in insitutional credibility. Just at the moment when these corporations were seeking to expand into more repressive socities by promising discretion, the world learns that even in the US no barrier to government surveillance exists.

The revelations also add to the credibility loss of government institutions following the Iraq War and bailouts. Now, even more lies come at a moment when QE is ending (and the bill is due), the fiscal stimulus is long gone, and there is a palpable concern about market manipulations, such as Wall Street purchases of real property to reinflate the housing market. Defying "experts," the boomers are parking their money in cash not bonds. The young of course remain in education debt peonage, facing a crap job market and increased generational costs including Obamacare, and they are politically unrepresented.

The old aren't investing because of economic risks and the young aren't innovating because of economic and political/social risks. Surveillance accelerates trends already present by underming institutional credibility and rewarding conformity.

Surveillance is also, by definition, an unaudited unacvountable government expenditure supplied by corporations with cozy government relationships.

Surveillance is a social cost. The monetized cost is not just the expenditures for the NSA etc, though they are vast. Mass surveillance deflates the economy as an anti-multiplier variable. Surveillance is a poison pill, the anti-stimulus. Conversation becomes guarded. Communication gets stilted. Asses get covered. Money gets mattressed. Ideas get suppressed.

Whatever the political and moral issues, we cannot economically afford Obama's vast, corrupt surveillance regime.

Anonymous said...

Conformity may be the organizing principle of Obama's presidency. It's not just the knowledge that Funny Uncle Clapper is looking at your selfies, there's the whole teach-to-the-test educational regime. Does Obama have any goals for the country beyond milquetoast "safety"?

Land of the safe!
Home of the conformists!

Flesh Colored said...

No worries. Creepy liar Keith Alexander will keep your naked selfies very, very private. Just him and his thousands of totally unaccountable employees and foreign affiliates.

Anonymous said...

I would assume The Clapper and General Special K have spent plenty of quality time with the private files of our wives, girlfriends and daughters. That's just a fact of surveillance states (for example the federal building camera scandal).

If there is ever proof, I imagine there'll be a hundred million man march to dismantle the NSA. Assuming the hundred million woman march hasn't already succeeded before we get there.

The military brass has definitely and secretly entered America's bedrooms.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the generals hearing on sexual harrasment? What more proof do you need of the military mindset? General Alexander himself lied to Congress, completely insubordinate, total cowboy asshole. No civilian tells that creep what to do.

The media keeps avoiding the truth: the NSA programs are MILITARY operations on US soil. The NSA is ooperating illegaly by spying on US citizens and it has NO credible oversight. You better believe the mitary mindset is fullblown there, including the rape culture.

This is what lawless surveillance in a military state looks like.

And please don't even mention the nonexistant civil liberties board that a) doesnt actually exist and b) has no statutory authority anyway.

Why aren't feminist groups complaining and demanding transparent review?

Anonymous said...

Yo! From your ass to Uncle Clapper's ear. The Feds have spent the day respinning this illegal military NSA mess into civilian FBI s.o.p. Uncle Keith slithered out of the sunshine, and now it's all about The Clapper running down "furrin' type brown folks.". He sounds a lot like a certain sherriff named Joe, come to think of it.

Apparently the administration has replaced the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments with something called "ObamaPrivacy®" which shouldn't be confused with actual privacy. (ObamaPrivacy® translates into English roughly as "24/7 surveillance, suckers.") The media have not only embraced ObamaPrivacy®, they have actually banned both cardinal and ordinal expressions of 1, 4, and 5 in fear of jogging American memories of "no warrants" and "probable cause" and such outdated shit.

Basically, the administration has admitted what it is doing is completely illegal, and their nads are starting to sweat. Meanwhile, the barons of social media admitted on second thought that, yeah, they colloborated with the fascists, but no biggy, right?

Obama's chickenhawk war cabinet is still counting on the NSA to quell any dissent for the middle eastern lolllapalooza they've got planned. And "Mr Rules" Obama himself lobbed a drone just to enjoy killing some Pakis and to show the new PM who REALLY controls thd land of the pure. Provocations throughout the world actually--Obama needs a diversionary war.

Lets all enjoy whats left of democracy.

Boundless said...

Yeah, but then Greenwald knocked the FBI/Clapper pitch out of the park! Eventually Obama has to explain what the fuck the Defense Department's NSA is doing scooping up massive US citizen ip's.

Completely and utterly illegal!!

Not to mention Uncle Keith (and the Clapper) and the social web companies shown to be liars (moments after they admitted "limited" collaboration). Well played.

Long story short: it's the NSA, it's illegal, it's quantifiable, it's massive, it's not just foreigners, it's domestic, victims (ip's) can be identified, it's tortable.

Obama keeps having his lies handed to him in MINUTES! Yo, in your FACE, Mr. President, sir.

Anonymous said...

Ah. And that's another reason for ObamaPrivacy® I'd say--to prevent formation of a class action formed by identifying victims through the Informant software.

That's why Uncle Keith and The Clapper lied all along.

This leaker is a genius. He or she is not just doing an info dump (like Manning)--he's handing out tools. Of course they may fail, but the courts will have to invent new feasons for them to fail.

Anonymous said...

Obama's next reply: murder?

The NSA leaker must be even more vulnerable than Greenwald, since the employee list is secret.