Tag Archives: NSA

Edward Lucas “Snowdenista” piece in the Wall Street Journal is the most dishonest thing you’ll read today

Snowden, Assange, Greenwald, and anyone else who believes that NSA spying on American citizens is wrong is a tool for Mother Russia. Makes sense.

Edward Lucas of the Economist. #wanker

I just read Edward Lucas’s Wall Street Journal piece entitled “A Press Corps Full of Snowdenistas.” I can’t honestly say if Mr. Lucas is a liar, an idiot, or simply a guy who’s a little too captive to the security state party line to see past his own dogma. We’ll be charitable for the moment and assume the latter, although “wild-eyed apparatchik” is hardly something to aspire to.

The premise of his rant is more or less summed up with this: Continue reading Edward Lucas “Snowdenista” piece in the Wall Street Journal is the most dishonest thing you’ll read today

Dear NSA: I need a little help with this Obama/Putin Nobel Peace Prize post

Dear NSA.

You probably saw Russ’s piece yesterday on Vlad Putin being a possible for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yeah, I know, what a hoot, right? And you saw my comment on how they might as well give it to him because they jumped the shark when they gave it to Obama in 2009.

Anyway, this got me to thinking about doing a post on “Nobel committee jumps shark,” or somesuch. I mean, Obama hadn’t done dick at the time and since then his record has to have the Nobel folks wondering if there’s a way they can take it back. Enhanced interrogation, doubling down on every bad idea Bush ever had, the NSA mess, and now agitating for an invasion of Syria?

I recall writing about what a joke Obama’s Nobel was back when it was announced in October of ’09. I thought I had blogged it, but a search this morning reveals no such post. Which means it was instead a back-channel e-mail to our private S&R staff mailing list on Google groups. I’m damned if I save back e-mails for four years, but it occurred to me that you guys probably do.

So what I’m wondering is if you can do a quick search of my archive for October 2009 and find that e-mail for me? I can always do a post and say that “four years ago I said ___________,” but it’s a lot more effective if I can actually quote what I said.

If you can find five minutes to help a citizen out I’d be grateful. Hope you guys are doing well, and if I don’t hear from you today have a good weekend.

Sam

Bush III: Obama’s deteriorating legacy

Way back in March of 2008, as the campaign was running in high gear, I made clear that while I wasn’t in love with the Democratic frontrunners, the emerging alternative was worse: John McCain represented the third Bush presidency.

I was undoubtedly right. But… You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?

Poppy. Dubya. And now Barack. I was right – the 2008 election gave us the third installment in the Bush Dynasty.

Perhaps we’ll get to see Colin Powell back in front of the UN again soon…

Legal, but not constitutional: how the government is weasel wording the public about Edward Snowden and the NSA

Homeland Security PrecrimeThe Edward Snowden/NSA/PRISM uproar continues, and in the argument over whether or not he’s a Real American Patriot or your basic criminal vigilante the whole fucking point is getting lost. In fact, that argument is precisely the one that the Obama administration and the GOP’s security-state architects want us waging because it distracts us from the actual issue we need to be discussing.

You may have noticed, in reading the various statements from government officials, the recurrence of a theme: the program that Snowden exposed is legal. Keep track of how many times you hear that word. It’s. All. LEGAL.

Yes it is. And the effectiveness of the government’s rhetoric right now is unfortunately due, in part, to the language employed by the left over the past decade, which has lambasted the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program. Illegal. Legal. Therein lies the problem. (I have to admit that I have been culpable in this – somehow I didn’t quite grok how that framing was inadvertently legitimizing the Patriot Act and FISA.)

The problem isn’t legality, it’s constitutionality, and there’s a huge difference. The programs that Snowden dropped the dime on are legal because they’re defined by laws passed by Congress. Period. If Congress passes a law, it is by definition legal until such time as it is either overturned by either the Supreme Court or subsequent legislative action. It sounds, from what I can gather, like the NSA program is functioning as designed (it’s hard to be certain since everything about it classified, but let’s play along for the moment). The law passed both houses of Congress, was signed into law by the president, is administered by a court and has not been turfed by SCotUS. Done and done.

The thing is, the process I just described means that if Congress passed legislation explicitly banning free speech, or establishing Catholicism as the official state religion, or banning blacks and women from voting, or granting police the right to enter your home anytime they like without a warrant, or eliminating habeas corpus, and if the president signed the law, and if the Supreme Court found nothing wrong with it, then that law would be legal in the same way that current domestic surveillance programs are legal.

So when an Obama mouthpiece or a Capitol Hill Republican screeches that the program is legal, understand that for what it is. A law can be immoral, unconstitutional, racist, sexist and oppressive in a hundred different ways while being perfectly legal.

And when you get the corrupt leaders of two parties in agreement over the need for and value of a security state, and they’re able to install five or more like-minded individuals on the nation’s highest court, they have assumed the ability to ignore the Constitution whenever they feel like it.

The NSA spying program is legal, but it is unconstitutional. I suppose you could, in the spirit of tedious technical accuracy, say that it’s constitutional if the Supreme Court says it is. But Edward Snowden, like a lot of us, believes that the Bill of Rights means what it says. A lot of people believe that when a government uses its legislative and judicial apparatus to pretend that words don’t mean what they clearly say that it has forfeited its legitimacy.

How many people believe this and what are they prepared to do about it? This is the tipping point upon which we are balanced, and only time will tell whether the citizenry will demand that its government stop hiding behind a corruption of the word legal and begin behaving in accordance with the principles unambiguously codified in the Constitution.

In the meantime, whenever you hear the words “legal” and “illegal” being used to damn Edward Snowden, understand: you are being manipulated and lied to.

Prediction: Snowden/NSA case guarantees that the 2016 campaign is going to be weird, infested with irony

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden’s status has rapidly transformed from “anonymous consultant drone” to “popular hero,” hasn’t it? In an age of cheap convenience, bread and circuses, the complete cooption of government by the corporate elite and an unprecedented culture of political Newspeak, we’re used to people talking the talk. But a zombie apocalypse seems more likely than encountering someone actually walking the walk.

“You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk, because they’re such powerful adversaries, that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you in time.”

In an article published on Sunday, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman wrote that in his earliest communications with Snowden, the NSA contractor said he understood that he would be “made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end” — and that the threat extended to journalists investigating the story before it becomes public.

The U.S. intelligence community, Snowden wrote to Gellman, “will most certainly kill you if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.”

But he further stated that he wanted to pursue the leak despite what had happened to whistleblowers in the past, “to embolden others to step forward,” to show that “they can win.”

Snowden is hiding out in Honk Kong and is rumored to be shopping about for a country in which he can seek political asylum. He abandoned his career. He walked away from his girlfriend. He accepted that he might well spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s returned to the land of the free and the home of the brave, the country where at least we know we’re free. He has acknowledge that he could be rendered. He is open to the idea that the CIA might kill him.

Whether or not these things happen, whether or not they’re true, we can’t really tell him he’s wrong to consider the possibility. Given what we know about our government, there’s no piece of this that seems implausible.

I commented yesterday that had this story broken a year ago we might currently be venting our outrage at President Romney. But it didn’t, and we aren’t. The target of our anger is the hopey-changey guy, who back in 2007 promised to out an end to the Bush era warrantless security state.

This has the feel of an issue with legs. On its own, it’s compelling and very dramatically gets to the heart of our nation’s obsession with freedom (which is as sadly ill-informed as it is passionate). This NSA PRISM thing doesn’t fit the preferred ideological narrative and is likely to energize a lot of people who up until now probably thought NSA stood for National Softball Association or something.

Second, it’s an issue that constituencies on both sides of the political divide can agree on. Progressives have been screaming about this since the words “Patriot” and “Act” were first used together. Conservatives who played along blindly for a decade are now paying attention because it’s all of a sudden on Obama.

Third, it seems unlikely that the government is going to let this one go quietly, so every time a story about their pursuit of Snowden hits the news we’re all going to be reminded of the controversy. (See also: Manning, Bradley; Assange, Julian; Anonymous; WikiLeaks.)

Taken together, we might expect government spying to be an issue that a politician can make some hay with come Campaign 2016 (which, trust me, is already under way).

Here’s where things get ironic. Since the story broke on Obama’s watch (well, this time, anyway – but Americans have short memories), that means that evil government snooping is going to be a Republican issue. You remember the Republicans – they’re the ones who started it all. Post-9/11 it was Bush and the GOP who led the charge that gave us the Patriot Act, the Ministry of Homeland Security, and all that has emerged from them.

The things is, the “left” played along, collaborating and enabling like good Vichy Democrats, and in doing so abandoned the moral high ground. Worse, Mr. Obama not only hasn’t dismantled the Republican Big Brother apparatus, he’s doubled down on it. The government officials voicing all this outrage over Snowden’s unconscionable, traitorous actions? Yep – they’re Obama’s people.

It’s hard to win an election when the stick that your opponents are using against you is one that’s expressly ideological and perfectly suited for soundbiting. And whoever lands the Democratic nomination in 2016 is going to inherit all of Obama’s baggage.

It’s hellishly difficult reminding folks that it was actually that other guy’s baggage, that Bush fella. Remember him? Patriot Act! Republicans! It’s especially tricky when the folks you’re running against can easily trot out the roll call where you voted for the damned thing. (Paging Clinton. Paging Hillary Rodham Clinton.) Now, it may seem like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. If you can hang it around Hil’s neck, why can’t we assume that voters can be reminded that it was a GOP initiative? You’d think so, but the conservative half of the country can be counted on to exercise selective memory and the half that’s supposed to be on your side has been pissed as hell about your betrayal of the Constitution for 12 years now. There are ways you can play the spin game that may work, but it’s not as easy as it would be if you hadn’t had your nose so far up Bush’s ass you could smell his tonsils.

Just saying.

So many what-ifs. What if the Dems hadn’t worked so hard to help the GOP destroy every vestige of critical thinking from our education system? A more informed electorate might come in handy in 2016. What if they’d voted against the Patriot Act and FISA? What if they’d raised mortal hell every day since passage and reminded the public who it was, exactly, that was surveilling them? What if they had proposed as many bills to kill the PA, FISA and Homeland Security as the GOP has to overturn Obamacare?

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Didn’t. And now who’s the biggest pro-freedom hero on Capitol Hill? Rand Fucking Paul. Is there no end to the spinelessness and self-defeating stupidity of the modern Democratic Party? Give them a decade and they could turn George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond into the Rainbow Coalition.

Earlier this morning I took to Facebook to pose a question re: Edward Snowden: What would America look like if our elected officials exhibited this kind of courage and commitment to the principles we like to think we all believe in? Fun thought experiment, I suppose, but there’s no chance that we’ll ever find out in real life, is there?

America vs. the Terrorists, 9/11/10: a status report, nine years on…

In September 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. They flew three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth was retaken by the passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. These things we know. Since then, much has transpired. For example:

George Will can’t stop lying!

I now know why Elvis shot that TV set.

If you missed it, Stephen Colbert’s special guest last night was conservative pundit George Will. I almost typed “addle-headed pathological liar George Will,” but didn’t because I think a cursory look at what he actually said will make that clear enough.

Show, don’t tell, as I always instruct my writing students.

So let’s start by watching the segment.

WARNING: people with above-average intelligence who have eaten a greasy meal in the last couple of hours should grab a barf bag before clicking play. Continue reading George Will can’t stop lying!