Monday, September 30, 2013

The Insecurity of the Security State

The good folks of the Surveillance State are terrified that we are not afraid enough of the bogeyman. They worry that we're not comfortable with our roles as domestic targets of our own government. So, instead of scaling back the surveillance, the spooks are simply ramping up both the fear and the guilt. They are striving mightily to wipe the Snowden egg off their faces even as they cravenly try to hide their faces.

Therefore, it's no big surprise that, having slunk and lurked on the dark side for so many decades, they are N.S.A. (Not So Adept) at filling this tall public relations order in order to justify their own continued, useless, bloated and lucrative existence.

But they're trying, they really are. Just in time to respond to the news of another blockbuster of an impending revelation that the Not-So-Adepts are in cahoots with the C.I.A. over an assassination program, the Obama administration has again commandeered the Paper of Record for use as its propaganda mouthpiece of record. In a masterpiece of the genre, the N.Y. Times has relied solely upon unnamed "present and former" officials to actually blame one of its rivals, McClatchey Newspapers, for an alleged August bombing plot leak that supposedly led to the "terrorists" clamming up and preventing the USA from monitoring them. The Times, of course, has proclaimed itself innocent of such enterprise journalism, patriotically and idiotically bowing to White House demands that it sit on the story to prevent the danger of official embarrassment.

The Times piece, homophonically and homogeneously written by a couple of reporters named Schmitt and Schmidt, is actually quite hilarious in places. For example, it takes seriously a complaint by Obama officials that the only chatter they've been able to pick up from Al Qaeda lately is terrorist gossip about the Snowden revelations! How dare they, when it is the duty of bad guys everywhere to broadcast their actual plans for mayhem. Idle chit-chat has no place in Spookville. As we all know, the Mid-east miscreants always, always stupidly allowed the American spooks to listen in, until Snowden and journalism happened along to spoil all the fun. Come on.

But the Times dutifully forges ahead anyway:
“The switches weren’t turned off, but there has been a real decrease in quality” of communications, said one United States official, who like others quoted spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence programs.
The drop in message traffic after the communication intercepts contrasts with what analysts describe as a far more muted impact on counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures by Mr. Snowden of the broad capabilities of N.S.A. surveillance programs. Instead of terrorists moving away from electronic communications after those disclosures, analysts have detected terrorists mainly talking about the information that Mr. Snowden has disclosed.
In other words, the "terrorists" are rubbing their faces in it. A lot like the American citizens who, suddenly made privy to state secrets, are now sending greetings to eavesdropping N.S.A. cubicle dwellers who might be feeling left out from the conversation, or who've run out of LoveInt targets to peep upon.

The data hoarders are also theorizing that since newspapers sometimes publish news, the terrorists have now discovered how read newspapers. The subliminal message, of course, is that information presents a clear and present danger. Ignorance is good. We must not know things, lest the Bogeyman tap into our knowledge:
“We have seen, in response to the Snowden leaks, Al Qaeda and affiliated groups seeking to change their tactics, looking to see what they can learn from what is in the press and seek to change how they communicate to avoid detection,” Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a security conference in Aspen, Colo., in July.
And worst of all, the terrorists might stop using the Internet and communicate in person! And just when the Surveillance State had finally built its multi-billion dollar Data Resort out there in the Utah desert:
The government’s greatest fear concerning its counterterrorism operations is that over the next several months, the level of intercepted communications will continue to fall as terrorists most likely find new ways to communicate with one another, one senior American official said. It will likely take the government some time to break into that method and monitor communications.
One way the terrorists may try to communicate, the official said, is strictly through couriers, who would carry paper notes or computer flash drives. If that happens, the official said, terrorists will find it very difficult to communicate as couriers take significant time to move messages.
There's only one thing for it. Yank the cubicle-dwellers away from their computers and send them out on the trail of the paper-pushers. Commandeer the thousands of courier bikes from the streets of New York City and start an international counter-courierism campaign. The Tour du Yemen can be filmed from above by Reaper drones for our viewing pleasure. Where there's an insatiable will for the corporate suits of the Surveillance Industrial Complex to make a stash of loot, they will always find a way. 


Zee said...

Well, as I write this, it's one minute 'til midnight, EDST, and the federal government is about to “shut down.” By the time that I'm done, it will be a fait accomplit. Little will change for me; I've been packing up the car to head down to Belen, NM, to (try to) break some clay targets, and life will go on as usual.

But—having been once threatened with a lay-off myself in mid-career—I cannot help but feel deeply for all my fellow citizens who are now on furlough and will have to figure out how to make ends meet until this mess is resolved.

My immediate neighbors on either side of me both work for defense subcontractors; depending upon their particular contracts, they may or may not be employed just now. Two houses down, the “lady of the house” works for the Department of Energy, and, across the street, the African-American head of household works for the Department of Defense. “Civilian” government employees all, some with young children.

Last week Mrs. Zee and I camped with friends at the well-maintained El Morro National Monument campground and enjoyed a full-moon-hike up to the top of the mesa, led by an enthusiastic young ranger who needs to work a bit on her “routine,” but whom we enjoyed nevertheless; she got points for enthusiasm at a little-known federal “outpost.”

I guess she—and her colleagues—won't get paid tomorrow, either. Nor will the lovely campgrounds be open, either.

I am sickened by the House Republicans and Ted Cruz—who dare to call themselves “conservatives” when they are nothing but “low-wattage-bulbed, scorched-earth fanatics”—and who have no regard for the well-being of those who are their “employees” and those who depend upon them.

As all of you know, I have serious doubts about ObummerCare. I'm pretty thoroughly convinced that it's going to be a disaster for just about everyone concerned.

But it's the law of the land—even if Obummer himself keeps arrogating himself the extra-Constitutional authority to give his pals waivers—and it should be allowed to stand or fall (as I believe it will) on its own. No Republican help needed, or wanted. No need whatsoever to shut the government down.

What's going on in DC is mere theater, with hundreds of thousands of federal employees about to pay the price of admission to see Republicans act out a “tale told by [idiots], full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

stev-oe said...

At 8:40 AM I saw that the lead story in the Times, "Government Shutting Down on Impasse" had gathered 2,175 comments. I have never seen that before. This may be a stretch, but my little town in VT has recently emerged from the dark tunnel of dysfunctional government. It was orchestrated by a native of the town, who left for some time, college and employment with the Department of Defense, took early retirement because they wanted to get rid of him and he returned to the town to live out the rest of his days and stop all progress. He was a Debating Champion, not like Mr. Ted Cruz, but you get the point.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The government shutdown is up and and running.

This is so confusing. Who among us could blame Obama for giving certain narrow interests exactly what they want in order to get the government back to work almost exclusively for certain narrow interests?

Are we watching a virtually-dead Democratic government being drowned in a bathtub by Republicans?

Which volume of Mikhail Bakunin does Hedges recommend we read first?

James F Traynor said...

If you can't beat a man kick his dog - or something like that. The country club set, or what passes for them now, has long been the vigorous defenders of the 1%. But something has happened, and it's the Tea Party and its followers in the House, the political brownshirts of today. They and their followers actually believe their own bullshit. And that is dangerous. The country club set never really believed the crap (many were skilled Madison Ave crap creators themselves), and could be counted on, in the end, to follow directions from on high.

That and the global nature of finance today makes me think that this time the loonies may actually succeed in defaulting on the debt. The oligarchs have become global and may no longer have much in the way of national interests. They could be insulated from the chaos and may even profit thereby. Who knows?