Now Playing Tracks

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

(hat tip: Dennis Kucinich)

America’s Shame: The U.S. Government's Human Trafficking Dilemma

beemill:

basically america turns a blind eye when they’re the ones involved in rampant human trafficking or violating human rights. and instead seeks out other countries to sanction for these violations. they truly believe their one of a kind toxic shit don’t stink.

(Source: koreaunderground)

America’s New Apartheid

Many people associate the mass imprisonment of a population with authoritarian regimes. Consequently, many Americans are surprised when they learn that the country that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other is the United States. With 2.3 million prisoners, the “land of the free” has more people in prison than China, which has a population four times the size of the United States. A hugely disproportionate percentage of those incarcerated are African-Americans as Washington’s war on drugs constitutes the latest incarnation of racist policies that have existed since the country’s founding.

(Source: azspot)

My notes from reading “The Snowden Saga” in Vanity Fair

Most of my reading time this week was spent on “The Snowden Saga: A Shadowland of Secrets and Light”, an article in Vanity Fair (May 2014).

  • I was surprised to learn that Glenn Greenwald spent months being uninterested in Edward Snowden’s emails at first. I have seen on Twitter that he will take the time to respond to some trolls, after all.
  • On page 154, “Next, in late January 2013, the sender e-mailed documentary-film maker Laura Poitras. After appearing on a U.S. “watch list,” Poitras, 50, had been detained and searched dozens of times at international borders and had fought back against invasive government surveillance…” It is lamentable that today’s “democracies” now place us on watch lists not for terrorism or even any wrongdoing, but rather for being effective at watching and reporting on their activities.
  • On page 154, “After the source described to Poitras secret government surveillance programs, she arranged to meet with her colleague Glenn Greenwald at a New York City-area hotel, where he was attending a conference. Poitras insisted he not bring a cell phone; the N.S.A., she knew, had the ability to turn any mobile phone, even one that had been turned off, into a microphone…” The First Amendment ensures my right as a citizen “peaceably to assemble”. If, however, my government knows with whom, where, and when I assemble, then this surveillance will have an inhibitory effect on my assembly. The argument that I have nothing to fear from government surveillance if I’m not plotting to do anything wrong has already been shown to be false. Journalists are already placed on watch lists and detained merely for being effective at watching and reporting on government activity.
  • On page 159, “… Now, when [Snowden’s] opinions were challenged, he would respond by calling the challengers ‘fucking retards.’ He termed Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, a ‘cockbag.’ He railed against Obama’s support for an assault-weapons ban. Social Security outraged him. ‘Cut this social security bullshit,’ he wrote at one point. On the subject of a safety net for the elderly, he wrote, ‘They wouldn’t be fucking helpless if you weren’t sending them fucking checks to sit on their ass and lay in hospitals all day.’” I appreciate this article for making Snowden more three dimensional and unlikeable for me.
  • On page 159, “In part, says Bruce Schneier, a leading security technologist and cryptographer who acted as a technical consultant to The Guardian on some of its Snowden stories, the N.S.A.’s ‘collect it all’ mentality stemmed from unrealistic expectations in the wake of 9/11. ‘If you give the intel community the impossible mission of “never again,”’ Schneier says, ‘the only way you can be sure you know that that thing won’t happen is to know everything that does happen.’” And so, are we individually citizens who trust government to know everything and yet not deconstruct freedom?
  • On page 161, “Thomas Drake was another top N.S.A. official who had turned on the agency. Drake, after complaining formally to the N.S.A. and other government agencies, had leaked information about waste, fraud, and abuse at the N.S.A. to the Baltimore Sun, and this resulted in his being charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. The government’s case collapsed, but in the process Drake’s life was devastated: he lost his job, his security clearance, and his career. Today, he works at an Apple Store in Maryland.” I wonder if many Americans are comfortable with our government invading our privacy because our government would NEVER break into our homes using armed agents, or NEVER destroy our careers because we expose government waste and fraud. What is our role in this democracy: to supervise government and ensure it is worthy of our consent, or is our role to consume retail products?
  • On page 162 we are told of Edward Snowden’s job as a sysadmin at Kunia Regional Security Operations Center in Hawaii, where analysts focus on the electronic monitoring of China and North Korea. In our electronic world, I am wondering why a station monitoring China and North Korea needs to be geographically next to China and North Korea?
  • On page 198, “… a person who knows Snowden well says, ‘Part of him is very naïve. I think he thought the world would see how fucked up what the N.S.A. was doing is and give him a part in a parade. I think he knew people would get mad, and charge him, but that the more that came out, the more people would say, “Hey, no.”’” I wonder how does a still young man who spends his youth largely on computers form any opinion of who the public is? Does he not even acknowledge the contrast between his own online self and RL self?
  • On page 201, General Keith Alexander is quoted: “And it’s somebody who had one of these badges,” he says, fingering his own top-security-clearance badge, “who betrayed the organization.… You like to think that you have shared values, and you have shared reasons for being here, because it’s not the pay. So to realize the organization is harboring this person, who didn’t share those views, and betrayed us that way …” His voice trails off. I notice that General Alexander does not enumerate what these values are. The First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment could not be on the list.
  • On page 202 we read about the intimidation the British government subjected The Guardian to. A democracy’s journalists must be able to trust that their own offices and sources are inviolable, otherwise a truly free press will have no choice but to relocate their offices to foreign soil, which may be neutral at best and hostile at worst.
  • Would N.S.A. personnel happily herald the utter defeat of “terrorism”? Then they could close down because their jobs were done, and now they could go on to other careers. Or do our protectors and our terrorizers need one another as intimately as obverse and reverse?

—DakotaPuma (May 18, 2014)

… What I wanted more than anything was for the world to see Snowden’s fearlessness. The US government had worked very hard over the past decade to demonstrate unlimited power. It had started wars, tortured and imprisoned people without charges, drone-bombed targets in extrajudicial killings. And the messengers were not immune: whistle-blowers had been abused and prosecuted, journalists had been threatened with jail. Through a carefully cultivated display of intimidation to anyone who contemplated a meaningful challenge, the government had striven to show people around the world that its power was constrained by neither law nor ethics, neither morality nor the Constitution: look what we can do and will do to those who impede our agenda.

Snowden had defied the intimidation as directly as possible. Courage is contagious. I knew that he could rouse so many people to do the same.
Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide (via beemill)
To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union