Monday, June 10, 2013

One Singular Snoopy Sensation

If you'd told me last week that Glenn Greenwald would be the featured guest on the corporate-funded Sunday blather-fests, I would have asked you what you were smoking.

If you'd told me last week that a creepy outfit named Booz Allen Hamilton was working in cahoots with the American government to spy on virtually everybody on the planet, I would have asked what you were drinking. Can I have my Booz on the rocks, please?

If you'd told me that the leaker would be a high-school dropout with an aristocratic name, as articulately well-versed in the law, politics, technology and humanitarian thought as any Ivy League meritocrat, I would have told you to throw your Clooneyesque Everyman script right back in the reject pile.

What a difference a week makes. The National Conversation has been turned upside down, and the elite official conversation-starters have landed on their collective ass in the Thump Heard Round the World. It doesn't get any better than this. It gives me renewed hope, knowing that a few people can indeed make a difference.

The outrage is palpable, the sense of relief that one person and a marginalized journalist and an independent foreign newspaper can drastically alter the way we view our country and our leaders overnight is miraculous. How do you spell B-a-c-k-l-a-s-h?

Some are saying that the irrefutable evidence that our government is spying on us will create a chilling effect, make us hesitate to use our phones and write emails and post comments saying what is really on our minds. But just in reading the more popular comments threads on media outlets like the New York Times and even more "conservative" sites like Politico, it is obvious that people are mad as hell in droves, and are not going to take it any more. At least for the time being, anyway. Whether this anger will lead to more right-wing nuts coming out of the woodwork, a resurgence of the Occupy movement or other forms of  public protest, or just a gradual slide back into lives of quiet desperation remains to be seen.

Somebody took issue with my observation yesterday, in response to Maureen Dowd's column, that the power players of the Security State are desperately trying to spread their manure of blame all over their disaster capitalist playing field. What does capitalism have to do with it, he asked. George Orwell certainly never warned us against capitalism. It was communist totalitarianism back in the day. The Cold War was just getting started when Nineteen Eighty-Four was published 65 years ago.

This was before the stunning revelation that the government is actually outsourcing spying to private corporations. 9/11 spawned a whole atrocity industry. There's a reason the Washington DC metro area is now the wealthiest enclave in the country. The Security State lives there. If you haven't yet read Dana Priest's Top Secret America, pick it up. Or, you can read the condensation here. It's Orwell with a side of Kafka and Huxley for dessert. If you don't particularly care one way or another, just keep popping your Soma with a chaser of Obama.

It's official. Capitalism has morphed into fascism, and fascism has spawned feudalism. And the lords and ladies of the manor cower behind their raised drawbridges, dreaming of falling men and rising profits, even as the peasants once again ponder sharpening the pitchforks.
I flew over the world trade center going to Senator Lautenberg's funeral. In the distance was the Statue of Liberty. And I thought of those bodies jumping out of that building, hitting the canopy, part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe.
Human intelligence isn't going to do it, because you can't -- it's a different culture. So, this kinds of strict strictly overseen, it's overseen by the justice department, by inspectors general, by audit, by a 90-day review, by the court, is looked at like a method. I'm very happy if there's a better way.
-- Secrecy fetishist Dianne Feinstein, speaking on ABC/Disney on Sunday.  This 80-year-old woman needs to retire, very soon, to the Magic Kingdom Assisted Living Facility for the Obscenely Wealthy in Neverland, USA.


annenigma said...

I was glued to every single one of the Watergate hearings at the time, and I can say that this Spygate is the biggest political event of my lifetime, by far. I can't wait for the hearings and legal proceedings to start.

BTW, I got 'One Singular Snoopy Sensation' as I started writing this comment: a big warning sign (something in red like a finger with a slash through it) appeared on my screen briefly and my cursor locked up. I've had many weird computer and email problems recently. Maybe my recent donation to Glenn and our email back and forth (just before this all broke) has put me on The List, as if we all weren't there before. Or your website is being monitored and tampered with - what a shock that would be!

I don't expect Congress or the President to change anything about this unconstitutional surveillance. There is too much money going to private contractors in all the Congressional districts, and all the related jobs. They will, undoubtedly, throw us a bone to get us calmed down, but it won't have any meat on it. This is a problem for the courts, and I hope it all gets there.

By the way, did anyone else notice Snowden mentioning that he could access any judge or President's accounts, 'providing I had their personal info'? He didn't actually wink, but I hope he was sending a message and has a life insurance policy of sorts. I especially hope he has something pertaining to Chief Justice John Roberts in particular. Everyone needs to know how vulnerable they are, especially the Chief Justice.

My last and only hope: the Supreme Court.

Zee said...


Your computer may be subject to an attack from a fake anti-virus program. These often are designed to look like warnings from Microsoft Security Essentials and may even seem to "take control" of your browser, not letting you go anywhere until you use the Task Manager to end all programs.

I experienced a series of these attacks and then it just magically went away. As far as I know, my computer is still OK.

I am a computer user, not a hacker, but here is some information that might be helpful to you:

The next time that you see such an "infection alert," copy down the name of the program that they are telling you to use, or actually trying to sell you, and then use Google to try to identify the bogus anti-virus package.

There may be some more specific information available as to what to do about your particular attacks.

Hope this helps. If not, maybe someone else in this forum is more knowledgeable.

annenigma said...


Thanks, but these oddities aren't telling me to use any programs or referring me to any sites. I am familiar with what you are talking about though, and I do use Google to check it out. I haven't seen one of those in quite a long time though.

Mostly the problem is with my email. Messages from others appear in my box, then vanish, then reappear. Then I start writing an email to someone and it vanishes, and I can't even find it in the saved draft folder, but then the recipient replies when they received the incomplete version a day later even though I didn't finish it, didn't send it, and it's not in my sent folder. It also takes a complete day for my re-written completed sent version to get delivered. Weird stuff like that. I use Yahoo and keep my anti-virus up to date.

(Sorry to bore the rest of you)

annenigma said...

Daniel Ellsberg wrote a great piece in The Guardian titled 'Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America. He refers to what has been happening as an 'executive coup'.

Jim - South Florida said...

It's all becoming almost too hard to grasp. A few years ago we were "rendering" alleged terrorists to Syria for "enhanced interrogation." No one bothered to mention Syria was doing the same thing to its own citizens. Now a substantial portion of our government wants to overthrow the Assad regime. Oops, that likely will put people like those we were renditioning in charge of Syria.

But think about this current revelation for a moment. Suppose NSA really is tracking every electronic communication in the U.S. I don't care how much computing power they bring to bear -- and they have a lot. The volume is too large to produce real-time results. "Person of Interest" is a TV show, not reality.

For all the Clapping and shrieking, this set of leaks probably serves the government more than hurts it. Because now we're afraid. Every time you're tempted to say something not-really-threatening, just verbally abusive, about the gov or some pol, you are going to stop and think: Who else may see this?

Mission Accomplished

Outsida said...


Speak for yourself. It hasn't inhibited Karen, and it hasn't stifled me one bit.

The saddest part of all this is that having realized from his targeted assassination of American civilians that Obama is a cold-blooded killer, he would sign a kill order against Ed Snowden in a heartbeat.

Can you hear me now? Mission Not Accomplished.

Jim - South Florida said...


You think you have email problems?

"Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications."

Jim - South Florida said...


And you're speaking for yourself, while not revealing a thing about your real name or location! I think many Americans will be cowed by this information. Whether they'll be driven to action or into hiding remains to be seen.

James Kearman
Stuart, Florida

James F Traynor said...

I think 1984 was more about fascism and Animal Farm about communism. Both are very similar but fascism seems to use language corruption more and communism relies more on 'equality' or the collective to achieve its ends.

Capitalism as we have it here has morphed from an economic system into a sociopolitical 'ism' that is essentially fascist in nature. But this form of capitalism is very comfortable with the Chinese form of communism which has melded with capitalism.

James F Traynor said...

I think present fears about the government knocking us off are to some extent overblown; the large majority of are small potatoes. Being black listed is a far more logical fear. But the possibility is growing given the Bush and now the Obama administrations use of rendition and drones. Concentration camps of some sort or another no longer seem odd. Maybe Greenwald, Snowden et al will warn enough of us to make a difference.

Outsida said...

Some people make innocuous comments and use their real names, some make more inflammatory comments and use pseudonyms. Makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Re: Volume of Data Collected

People don't sift through all this data, application software programs do. It sounds overwhelming to humans, but these programs can handle it easily and sift it into specified packages that analysts then analyze. It's called the computer age. New apps are written all the time, fine tuning things even further. No biggie for computer geeks and their powerful systems.

Jim - South Florida said...

"Some people make innocuous comments and use their real names, some make more inflammatory comments and use pseudonyms. Makes sense to me."

Exactly. Mission Accomplished.

Anonymous said...

"If you'd told me that the leaker would be a high-school dropout with an aristocratic name, as articulately well-versed in the law, politics, technology and humanitarian thought as any Ivy League meritocrat, I would have told you to throw your Clooneyesque Everyman script right back in the reject pile."

I don't know if you're familiar with today's Ivy League. I know quite a few high school dropouts who are more intelligent and better versed in history and literature than "any Ivy League meritocrat." I've worked in mgmt. consulting, our "legendary" firm hired only 3.8 and higher out of Harvard and Stanford and UCB (the latter two not technically Ivy) and most of them couldn't distinguish Rabelais from Robespierre. Presumably, they knew Six Sigma. (And W. was not a bad student at Yale, so... clearly the degree is not a guarantee of intelligence or decency.)

Poor Snowden. He learned a little from Manning's ordeal - the pre-emptive video will provide a thin shell of protection against the assaults on his character.

But let's not be shocked that a high school dropout is "articulate."

Zola failed his baccalaureat... TWICE. And the second time, he took the bac out in one of the provinces, where it was supposedly easier.

Outsida said...

Jim, Jim, Jim.

Let me get this straight. You don't think I have a right to protect my privacy while I express controversial opinions in a public forum? You think that is being cowed?

Maybe I don't want you to know who I am anymore than I want the Government or my neighbors or co-workers to know, but I'm not inhibiting my freedom of speech in any way. I am simply being protective of my privacy. There's a big difference.

As everyone keeps saying, we've known for a long time that the government was snooping on us electronically, so why would anyone act differently now? The cat's out of the bag and we have the evidence of it, but otherwise it's the same old violations of our privacy rights, except now they might finally be addressed.

Mission Accomplished? Yeah, just like that banner Bush stood by on the aircraft carrier.

Anonymous said...

"For all the Clapping and shrieking, this set of leaks probably serves the government more than hurts it. Because now we're afraid. Every time you're tempted to say something not-really-threatening, just verbally abusive, about the gov or some pol, you are going to stop and think: Who else may see this?"

A lot of us have been self-editing for years. The benefit of this leak is that it refocuses attention on whether the government is right to do this. So in fact, it has the potential to embolden people whose activism had gone dormant.

The idea behind the government abuse of Manning was that it would stop future leakers.

But it didn't stop Snowden.

So, you gotta ask yourself, what leaks will be revealed next and by whom?

How do we show support for Snowden in such a vical manner that others feel they can step forward? We also need to continue expressing support for Manning. Who was the NSA whistleblower from last year? He needs a support fund.

Anonymous said...

Progressives have begun raising money for the legal defense of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who has admitted to leaking several secret national security documents to the British newspaper The Guardian and the Washington Post.

In an email to supporters today, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said that because “whistleblower” cases are extremely expensive to litigate, they would raise money to pay Snowden’s legal fees.

The message to the group’s email list came from Stephen Kohn, the executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

Pearl said...

I see fear entering those of you (of us) who write strong criticism of the current revolting state of affairs in America. This is not the time to pull back and as long as you are not threatening anyone or planning to blow up
the Senate Building you should not be stopped for voicing your opinions. Is this advice guaranteed to keep you safe from government harassment? No.
However, we must honor the lifelong dedication of people like Karen for speaking truth to power by having the courage to speak out clearly and honestly and factually as she so eloquently does.

Believe me, this comes from a survivor of the McCarthy years, who trembles at what is going on in my birth country (it's deja vu all over again). As MLK and others have said, to remain silent is to allow the corruption and
chaos to continue. Not only that, but we owe it to others to support those who speak out courageously. I marvel at our whistle blowers who face jail terms or worse but they ARE blowing the lid off the current administration
and without them and others, hopefully, the nation could face worse disaster. I hope more brave souls will come forward to validate those who are now in the public eye and we must continue to speak clearly and intelligently about the dangerous state of affairs in America and not from
terrorists alone.

We must also speak out about the treatment of Manning and others to come. I think we are on the edge of change in attitude judging from some of the columnists from the N.Y.Times that have never been so outspoken before. Now that their freedom to write what they think is being attacked, they have

Pearl said...

Just watched a wonderful discussion including David Sirota (outstanding progressive writer and activist) about Snowden and who are the real criminals in this case on CNN, with excerpts of comments from Snowden. Very inspiring and this issue is getting lots of coverage in the media. They're not going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle anymore in Washington. One commenter to Krugman called for a march on Washington. Hope it materializes.

Zee said...

@Dear Pearl--

As I have pledged, I am spending part of my week complaining by 'phone and e-mail to my Federal legislators about the enormous scope of the NSA's e-mail/telephone surveillance and its potential “slippery slope,” and I assure you that I am not pulling my punches—for whatever that may be worth.

This is an abomination, and I dare to call it such to the face of my so-called Democratic “legislators.” They have known who I am for years, some have met me face-to-face, and all have pretty much ignored me. Still, here I am. No fear here. And they demand to know exactly who I am when we meet or correspond by e-mail, right down to my e-mail address(es), street adresses, and, yes, telephone numbers.

And when I have written various Letters to the Albuquerque Journal, they, too, have insisted upon knowing exactly who I am, especially when I wrote a so-called “controversial” letter in defense of gay marriage. So, I signed my name and hoped for the best.

Still, I choose to try to maintain my anonymity on the Internet, as do “Outsida,” “Anonymous,” and “annenigma,” amongst a myriad of others.

I have an unusual surname, which identifies me almost immediately in conjunction with my location, about which I have foolishly burbled. Right down to my street address and 'phone number.

Mrs. Zee received strange 'phone calls after my Journal Letter in support of gay marriage—and, yes, Second Amendment rights, a surprising combo, no?—was published, and she was initially alarmed by the call. It turned out to be supportive, but what if it had not been so? And in the end, was it really supportive or merely “exploratory?” Mrs. Zee is still worried. As I said, my life and location are laid bare by a few keystrokes in association with my full name.

So, like Outsida, Anonymous, annenigma and spreadoption, on the wider Internet, I more-or-less hide my identity behind a pseuodnym, for whatever good it might do. Probably precious little, actually. (But still, Jim—South Florida, I highly recommend “hiding out” as best you can on the Internet.)

Still, with respect to my federal legislators, Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall and Michelle Lujan-Grisham, I am doing my best to let them know in no uncertain terms that what the NSA is doing is intolerable, in a completely open manner.

Wish me (and all of us) luck.

Denis Neville said...

“In this great herd machinery, dissent is like sand in the bearings. The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push toward military unity. Any difference with that unity turns the whole vast impulse toward crushing it.” - Randolph Bourne

I fear that nothing will change as a result of the recent NSA revelations. There will be no restrictions or slowing of its growth. Lots and lots of bleating from the sheep, cheerleaders for Napoleon, “If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear." The sheep don’t care.

Government by criminals - amazingly the sheep are more than willing to grant them unlimited powers - thrives on war because war corrupts the nation's moral fabric.

Progressive essayist Randolph Bourne warned a century ago that “war is the health of the state.”

“War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them. Of course, the ideal of perfect loyalty, perfect uniformity is never really attained. The classes upon whom the amateur work of coercion falls are unwearied in their zeal, but often their agitation instead of converting, merely serves to stiffen their resistance. Minorities are rendered sullen, and some intellectual opinion bitter and satirical. But in general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. Loyalty - or mystic devotion to the State - becomes the major imagined human value. Other values, such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them.”

“War becomes almost a sport between the hunters and the hunted. The pursuit of enemies within outweighs in psychic attractiveness the assault on the enemy without. The whole terrific force of the State is brought to bear against the heretics. The nation boils with a slow insistent fever. A white terrorism is carried on by the Government against pacifists, socialists, enemy aliens, and a milder unofficial persecution against all persons or movements that can be imagined as connected with the enemy…

“The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized. The more terrifying the occasion for defense, the closer will become the organization and the more coercive the influence upon each member of the herd. War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest level of the herd, and to its most remote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or a military defense, and the State becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become - the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men's business and attitudes and opinions. The slack is taken up, the cross-currents fade out, and the nation moves lumberingly and slowly, but with ever accelerated speed and integration, toward the great end, toward the "peacefulness of being at war."

Anonymous said...

New Yorker Mag suggests that Obama's crackdown on AP, Rosen may have produced necessary straw for Snowden's camel:

"There’s another question we don’t know the answer to: Did recent reports on the Obama Administration’s crackdown on leaks have anything to do with Snowden’s decision to come forward now? Did the stories about the Department of Justice’s investigation into the action of reporters at Fox and the Associated Press have any effect on his sense of the mounting “awareness of wrongdoing”? The general surveillance of civilians is different from the surveillance of journalists and government officials—but the issues and the tools used are related.
And, here, it’s instructive again to go back forty years. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were obsessed by leaks: in 1969, the first year of the Administration, they began tapping the phones of reporters and government officials, hoping to determine who was leaking information about bombings in Cambodia. Then, in June of 1971, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and Washington Post; two months later, Nixon assembled his White House plumbers, whose first task was to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. It was John Ehrlichman, a Nixon aide, who later called it “The seminal Watergate episode.” The pattern went like this: war, leaks, war on leakers, more leaks, more war on leakers.
Barack Obama and Richard Nixon are very different people, and they operate at very different moments in history. There is a lesson to be learned, though. Information gives you power, and surveillance gets you information. But there’s a risk in going too far—and there’s a danger of disillusionment and backlash, as more and more people think the country you lead isn’t living up to its ideals."

Tim Fairbank said...

Karen, I just dropped by to tell you how much I enjoyed your comment re: David Brooks latest column on The New York Times website. I thought you went to the heart of the matter. -- Tim Fairbank

Stephen Smith said...

Hi, your comment at NYTimes tonight was one of your best. Thanks, as always. And thanks for allowing comments here that don't go through an undemocratic vetting process. Can simple words really hurt so much that I have to wait all night for mine to possibly make it in print at the Times?

Stephen Smith, San Diego

Drew Knox said...

After reading Brooks' column this morning, I was ready to pen a response when I saw that you had already done a better job of capturing my response than I could have articulated.

My second thought was wouldn't it be nice if KG had the NYT column instead of Brooks. But then I realized that part of the editorial strategy of employing Brooks and Douthat is to court outraged reader responses.

Pearl said...

Thank you Karen for another brilliant comment on Brooks' inane explanation for the "odd" behavior of Snowden, titled The Solitary Leaker.(!). You also saved me from having to formulate a response to him when I am totally tired and it is late.
All of the pundits trying to determine just punishment for him have all the excuses Brooks used. They also fail to point out that the holy NSA and its
cohorts are more guilty of betrayal of the nation than Snowden could every
possibly be. They also are afraid to mention that the decision makers of intrusion into the peoples' privacy have lied, cheated and ignored the basic
needs of the population which are all crimes. They cannot say that Snowden lied. Please post your answer. Thank you for all your efforts.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts adding to the anti-Brooks book of fond memories. Brooksie Boy is just echoing the reaction of officialdom and the punditocracy, focusing on personalities rather than on the real issues. I think we knew this would be coming the minute Snowden went public.

My suggestion for everybody who thinks Snowden is the devil incarnate, or heaven forfend, an anarchist! -- Maybe, if you hum America the Beautiful really, really loud, you can make the scary thoughts in your head go away.

Anyway, for those of you who can't or won't click on the Brooks column, here's my comment:

This column reads like a genteel rewrite of Nixon's Enemies List. It spans the spectrum of the thin-skinned paranoia which the powerful exhibit whenever their predatory little worlds are exposed. To wit:

--Blame the messenger instead of the malefactors (Snowden magically destroys privacy by reporting on the destruction of privacy!) -- check.

-- Speculate about the messenger's psychological state ( Watergate Rule #26, inspired by the Nixon Plumbers break-in of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist ) -- check.

-- Denigrate the messenger's lowly educational background and social status. Point out the faux pas of servants who betray their masters, who of course are not corporate welfare capitalist spies, but rather philanthropic humanitarian aid organizations.-- check.

-- Question the messenger's patriotism and loyalty to friends and family. -- check. (These whistleblowers are always terrible sons, boyfriends and dressers - see Assange, Julian: Bill Keller edition)

Edward Snowden deserves a medal not only for upsetting the security state apple cart, but for getting David Brooks so tied up in knots that his bromides and his platitudes are congealing into a bigger mess than usual.

Snowden is guilty of the high crime of giving aid and comfort to the citizenry. He is a traitor to Brook's class.

Denis Neville said...

“He betrayed the privacy of us all.”- David Brooks, the tinpot sociologist psychoanalyzing Edward Snowden

Even more astounding is to read people praising Brooks.

Add my voice to the chorus of praises for Karen’s excellent takedown of Brooks.

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Last night I watched the German film “The Lives of Others” about the East German Stasi. The Gestapo had 40,000 officials watching a country of 80 million, while the Stasi employed 102,000 to control only 17 million. It should be a warning to us that unless pay attention we also could also become the victims of our own totalitarian government, created in the name of providing security against terrorists.

Privacy is already a luxury of the past.

"At its best, privacy shields and nurtures what is unique and authentic in people, while its absence or its violation often contributes to dehumanizing them. Privacy shelters, and thus offers sustenance to fragile virtues.” - Janna Malamud Smill, Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”- James Madison

James F Traynor said...

You can run but you can't hide. Hiding is really difficult. I could hide, but only as a single and it would take a lot of getting used to. And it's a real pain in the ass. Big cities are getting harder to hide in and rural areas are worse (everybody knows everybody) and wilderness is getting smaller and smaller (and a small mistake or accident out there can kill you). The best bet would probably be to hide among the homeless, but that's a hell of a life. The best defense is to lay your name and opinions out there, take the economic hit if it comes to that and give 'em the finger. Like you, Karen

annenigma said...

Snowden definitely betrayed Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

If he hadn't blown the whistle, Clapper's lies to Ron Wyden would still be accepted as truth: that the government wasn't collecting ANY DATA AT ALL on millions of Americans'. If it's so legal and 'only metadata', why blatantly lie to the Congressional oversight committee?

We'd never know he was lying if it wasn't recorded on tape and accessible to the public, and if Snowden hadn't revealed the Big Lie.

[Athletes are charges with perjury for lying to Congress for something stupid like steroid use, but this spy chief will probably get a loyalty award.]

We're told to trust them because Congress and the courts have 'oversight'. Maybe if oversight is the same as overlooking lies. Why wouldn't Clapper lie to the FISA judges? It's all Top Secret. Is his (or his underlings) testimony to them even recorded?

The Fisa judges think he's telling them the truth. Does what we know now match what he told them? But they/we can't look backwards now, can we? Obama's orders.

My guess is that all these lies and secrecy is because these programs are intended to deal with domestic insurrection. That is something they desperately do not want the Congress, the courts, or the public to ever know. The Founding Fathers anticipated as much.

Zee said...

I was prompted by the foregoing comments to have a look at the subject Brooks column.

Our tri-partite form of government with all its venerated, Constitutionally-ordained checks and balances, list of enumerated powers and a Bill of Rights, was created by the Founders specifically because they, too, wisely

“[held a] deep suspicion of authority, [a] strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, [a] fervent devotion to transparency, [and] the assumption that individual preference should be supreme.*” --David Brooks, slightly paraphrased by Zee.

According to Brooks, these are all “bad” values now-adays that are leading to the “atomization of society.” I thought they were among the values that made this nation [once] great.

Gee. I thought Brooks considered himself a Conservative. Guess I was wrong about him. Brooks is really just another sheep, ready to be sheared by Big Brother.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” --Ben Franklin

*I guess that I would not say that the Founders assumed that “individual preference should be supreme.” While the Founders esteemed individual liberty highly—as do I—that belief was/is tempered by a strong sense of civic duty and responsibility.

Bill Innes said...

Your comment today on the Brooks column in the New York Times was absolutely spot on. I was steaming about his column all day and when I read your comment I let out a huge sigh of relief. Keep up the fine work.

Outsida said...

I've got a new one for you all. I passed a UPS Store in town today and there was a sign on the door 'This facility is a Prescott Police Department K-9 Training Site'. If they were training the dogs for detecting drugs or explosives, they would use their own facilities and substances, right?

That probably explains the surveillance of American phone and internet records too. It's just 'spy training'.

Anonymous said...

Jane Harman's defense of Prism on yesterday's PBS NewsHour was truly painful. An ugly, ugly position. Listen only if you have a strong stomach.

Pearl said...

What is interesting is that officials were caught in blatant lies and this
time it is a topic that affects EVERYONE, even the 1% who indeed might have something to hide.

Other shortcomings such as lack of jobs crisis, even drone warfare, etc.etc. were under the radar screen but now everything that is wrong is going to be closely examined and many of the quite excellent responses to columnists and articles in the N.Y.Times include complaints beyond the secrecy issue. I won't be surprised if other whistleblowers (traitors - not my opinion) will
come out of the woodwork on lesser transgressions, but altogether the
administration record and Obama's stuttering explanations will not hold water anymore. Trust in government behavior and explanations is losing steam and hopefully the next line of thinking is what do we do about it all.
I am waiting for a march on Washington sans any violence.

James F Traynor said...

Oh Pearl, if there's a march, and I doubt it, there will be violence.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Mr. Traynor's somewhat typical dyspeptic certainty - in this case on the matter that a march on DC would involve violence.
One of my favorite books is Mailer's "The Armies of The Night" which details the 1967 march on the Pentagon.
I haven't read it since 2007, but as I recall, the sole incident of violence (in the book) was Mr. Mailer's lacerating self-portrait of himself as Falstaff among the greater, nobler men who organized the march. That and the mutual enmity he shared with a neo-nazi in a paddy wagon.
A great book, right up there with Sallust's rebuke to Cicero.

Jay - Ottawa said...

In the spirit of balanced reporting, the News Hour (PBS) MUST seat Jane Harman before its prim and proper audience. Her credentials are impeccable: Democratic congresswoman for several terms, super-rich and connected to the right people, cheerleader for Homeland Security, writes for the establishment’s “Foreign Affairs,” unapologetically in bed with AIPAC (which adores her), unrepentant hawk on Iraq, now a hawk on Iran, on the short list to head the CIA not so long ago, currently at the helm of DC's public-private Wilson Center, a well-endowed right-of-center think tank. Who better than Harman to weigh in on Edward Snowden while echoing Obama's call to balance the luxury of privacy with existential needs of security?

Stephen Smith said...

I just attempted to post this comment to Tom Friedman's column. I wonder if it will make it to print?

I think it is wise to consider why this secrecy and surveillance overload is happening. At some point, American foreign policy became an incubator for "terrorism." In the aftermath, is it impossible for Americans to consider they be partially at fault?

Why can't we look at things through other people's eyes? I I were a Muslim, I might find it easy to look at America as an enemy.

Can we step back and consider that?

Please take a look at Charles P. Pierce column, “What they do in my name.”

Stephen D. Smith

James F Traynor said...


What's your name?

annenigma said...

I think it's important to be aware that we may be baited by the Powers-That-Be to focus on private snooping rather than government snooping, just like we were baited during Occupy to focus on Wall Street crimes rather than government enabling/collusion. Let's not let ourselves fall for it.

We've got to keep our eyes on the ball. Our elected officials are the ones sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws but break them instead and assist their partners in crime in the private sector to do the same.

A fish rots from the head.

Outsida said...

@James F Traynor

Long time readers of Sardonicky are familiar with your frequently expressed expectation and favorable view of a violent form of revolution. It's not one most of us share, but there's no use in your denying it - it's in print under your real name. Let's hear it for the First Amendment!

Fortunately, the Fourth Amendment right to privacy gives us the free choice to publish our thoughts anonymously.

James F Traynor said...


I'm all for giving the gutless the way out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Outsida.

Mr. Traynor, it may be that "guts" are not determined by whether on identifies oneself on any particular board.

Having said that, I apologize to readers of Karen's blog. Reviewing "The Armies of The Night" yesterday evening I realized my error, which Sard. readers were kind enough not to point out. The 1967 March on the Pentagon did involve, very tragically, violence. (Despite that awful fact, it's still a riveting read.)

Please excuse my error. I believe I am correct, however, in saying that protests, particularly national protests, do not necessarily involve violence.

Toni said...

This is cool!