Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cogito Ergo Sum of All Fears

For all you cynics out there who think Barack Obama was lying to Jay Leno the other night when he said he doesn't spy on Americans,  the government megaphone known as the New York Times wants everybody to just calm the hell down.

Obama was parsing, is all, counting on the possibility that most people glued to The Tonight Show were too stupid to read between his philosopher-king lines. The fact that the government is collecting all your information cannot be equated with snooping. Here, according to Charlie Savage in a controlled leak disguised as an exposé, is what they are really doing to you:
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
 While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.
You see, it is only collecting those emails containing top-secret keywords dreamed up by top-secret bureaucrats that might relate to people under surveillance who live across nonexistent cyberspace borders. Therefore, if I email my friend in New Zealand (who in turn emails someone else, who unbeknownst to us, is under surveillance because her Uncle Joe's email was once flagged for talking about the Boston Marathon bombing) I will probably end up getting noticed by Big Brother. And if I made the mistake of yacking about the new pressure cooker I just bought and the latest fictional terror plot, I am in triple trouble. Oops -- since I just speculated about it here, I am very likely on The List already. I wrote to a foreigner who writes to lots of other people. I mentioned a household WMD. I mentioned the NSA. I have a name. I exist. I communicate. Je pense, donc je suis. I use the Internet, therefore I am suspect. There can be no doubt.

Naturally, the "senior government official" who spilled his guts to Charlie Savage will not be prosecuted for leaking, because this was one of those "official leaks" designed to downplay the egregious nature of the revelations before Glenn Greenwald reports on them. Because, according to the official leaker, there are safeguards in place to ensure that once a corporate Booz Allen snoop does read my stuff based on a keyword alert, he will immediately recognize the mistake, immediately report the gaffe to a "superior" whose sole function apparently is sitting around waiting to throw the billions of inadvertently-collected emails in the Bonfire of Ill-Gotten Communications. This front-page Times scoop's purpose was to reassure me that Big Brother means me no harm. It was also meant to give Barack Obama cover for his Big Leno Lie.

There can be no doubt.

The Times, of course, is not alone in giving cover to Obama, who also hilariously insisted to Leno that Edward Snowden could have gone through proper whistleblowing channels instead of seeking political asylum elsewhere. As the FAIR blog points out today, corporate media hacks are hacking in droves, defending domestic spying, fear-mongering over Al Qaeda, and Cold War-mongering over Russia.

And as NBC's Lester Holt reported last night,
 "While the cold war has been over for more than 20 years, the growing chill of late between Washington and Moscow became downright frosty today as President Obama called off his planned meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin, a response to Russia's grant of asylum to accused American spy Edward Snowden..."
To be fair, the report was later "tweaked" as Holt once again downgraded Snowden to leaker status.

And conversely, civil rights icon John Lewis has now hastily retracted his glowing comparison of Snowden to Gandhi and Thoreau. He's done a complete 180, pivoting from praising Snowden for his courage to now condemning the actions that have "damaged American  international relations and compromised our national security.  He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives."

Ouch. It appears that Lewis may have inadvertently been putting a damper on Obama's co-optation of the upcoming 50th anniversary of MLK's March on Washington. So -- down goes the praise, straight into Obama's bonfire of the vanities. The keywords are..... Damage Control
Do you see where the propaganda brigade is taking this whole discussion? Snowden is now spying for Russia because he exists in Russia through no fault or plan of his own. The American media-industrial complex is even concern-trolling the historic Russian anti-gay agenda as an excuse to boycott the Winter Olympics. Before Snowden, they didn't care. This is all about American chest-thumping and last-gasp hegemony. All of a sudden, our Predator President is the victim instead of the bully. All of a sudden, those Yemenis are inexplicably chattering about revenge in response to our surgically precise and anonymous drone murders.

It was very telling that the president self-protectively spilled his angst-ridden guts to a comedian on TV, rather than, say, at an actual press conference where he might have run the risk of being asked a tough question by at least one renegade reporter.

But anyhow, it is gratifying to know that our politicians enjoy their gold-plated, no-deductible, no co-pay health insurance in order to pay for all the bodily harm and psychic assaults inflicted upon their sensitive selves by Vlad the Impaler and Snowden the Merciless. The casualty list is becoming quite extensive. Charles Schumer has been poked right in his beady little eyes at least a dozen times in the last week alone. Reports of penetrating back wounds among members of Congress have reached epidemic proportions. Paul Ryan has suffered the double indignity of being both knifed in the back and slapped in the face. Poor baby. Somebody get him a Medicare voucher, quick, before Babushka Putin gives our exceptional American freedoms another black eye.


annenigma said...

Revisiting the embassy closures, isn't it curious that (1) the embassy in Benghazi is thought now to have been a secret CIA black site for prisoners, accounting for all the weirdness of not sending help to rescue personnel and the presence of a dozen CIA agents there (2) Al Qaeda recently orchestrates a bunch of prison breaks in the Middle East and North Africa (3) all of a sudden we close all our CIA prisons, I mean 'embassies' in that same area.

They didn't want another ambassador caught in a firefight with Al Qaeda trying to bust out their guys as happened in Benghazi. It might have been that they didn't really get any intercepts or chatter, they just read the newspapers about all the prison breakouts and anticipated that Al Qaeda might just be smart enough to launch a prison break, I mean an attack, at CIA black sites, I mean U.S. embassies.

Wasn't it Bradley Manning's Wikileaks that spilled the beans about embassies being more about spying than diplomacy? They're also CIA facilities.

Zee said...

I have to wonder what new lists I got added to when I corresponded on the topic of guns and gun control, via e-mail, with Valerie down in Oz?

And, of course, Valerie's probably on those same lists now, too.

Will said...

Can you think of anything less interesting/entertaining than an Obama guest appearance on Leno's already dreadfully boring show? **shudder**

P.S. I don't know what's up with Valerie these days, but I hope she's doing well. :)

Cirze said...

We wish this was the last predator president.

Hillary's turn at bat will destroy the thought for all time that women are the peace advocates.

Unless we mean the perfect peace of death.

Leno's show, of course, is known as the show for the stoopids.

Dave would have had some tough questions if not quips at his intellectual expense, not to mention Helen Thomas (still living in my memory and thought of every time an interview occurs with a public figure who is let by with soft balls)!

Love ya,


This is all about American chest-thumping and last-gasp hegemony. All of a sudden, our Predator President is the victim instead of the bully.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Descartes' Cogito thing has been modified by the NSA. Here's the update:

If you know but can't say, you're nobody.

Which is just the way TPTB want it.

Details here:

Pearl said...

I think the present state of the Union has exceeded even Orwell's
nightmares. I would suspect exaggeration from Karen and others if I hadn't lived it during the McCarthy era when even some of our friends couldn't believe the things we told them about political harassment we experienced and of so many Americans in the movie world, in the academic and scientific areas, and of reporters who tried to write the truth, and the price so many
paid for speaking out.
It is hard to believe that the sickness that festered then, has risen from the ashes and spread into every corner of the United States once again, but bigtime now.

The atmosphere (even from the safety of Canada) has affected my nightmares
of the past and rattled my sense of balance again and I know full well how
so many citizens today are feeling with this threatening wind at their
backs. I can tell from the current comments in Sardonicky, and from many
reports from others like Karen how dangerous it has all become. A recent
article from a reporter friend in N.Y. covered the statistics of suicide
rates in the country which are reaching epic proportions.

A recent editorial in the NYTimes supporting the current administration's comments to have Snowden return and be treated fairly, elicited the most virulent responses from most of the readers that I have ever seen in that paper. And words were not minced about the games Obama is playing to distract from the facts that have been exposed recently that Karen has written so eloquently about. Some of the people are no longer being fooled but will it be enough to affect the future?

And Zee, yes that is the article but not the same one I sent out. Canada is concerned because it challenges their saner regulations and opens up other possibilities for lawsuits by other companies that are greedy and vulturish. It involved a petition which I signed. I hope they get rid of Prime Minister Harper in 2015 which is now a distinct possibility as he is only to happy to
sell parts of Canada to the U.S.for a price. (oil pipeline, water rights, ad infinitum).

James F Traynor said...

We can't get away from ourselves, the animal ourselves, as much as we twist and turn. Thus it is again, as Pearl points out, McCarthy time, a variation on the theme Homo sapiens. I'm not denigrating the species, or individuals thereof, when I use the term animal. I find a sort of comfort in the fact that I lie somewhere, in the spectrum of the species, between the fictional Hannibal Lecter and, say, Helen Keller. Dealing with it culturally or individually is the problem.

noodge said...

It's also telling that Obama now runs to Leno rather than Letterman (as he once did). Maybe he was afraid of being named the Stooge of the Week.

Turns out the best interviewer on television may be John Oliver, who has taken over at the Daily Show during Jon Stewart's hiatus. Stewart has been far too deferential to his guests of late; he is too willing to let people off the hook in order to appear non-partisan.

But check out Oliver's talk with Kirsten Gillibrand from last night.

And check out how Gillibrand tries to avoid answering the questions, but Oliver refuses to let her off the hook.

Would that more talking heads were like John Oliver.

Zee said...


I don't think that I would be betraying any confidence if I say that at last report--late June--Valerie was doing very well, but is also very, very busy.

The Black Swan said...


In reference to our previous conversation about 'living wages' or 'guaranteed incomes', you might find this article and the attached interview very interesting.

James F Traynor said...

Thanks to Black Swan for that interesting naked capitalism ref. Very good.