Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship

How to turn a democracy into a STASI authoritarian state in 10 easy steps:

1. Misuse the concept of a Top Secret government document (say, the date of D-Day) and extend classification to trillions of mundane documents a year.

2. Classify all government crimes and violations of the Constitution as secret

3. Create a class of 4.5 million privileged individuals, many of them corporate employees, with access to classified documents but allege it is illegal for public to see leaked classified documents

4. Spy on the public in violation of the Constitution

5. Classify environmental activists as terrorists while allowing Big Coal and Big Oil to pollute and destroy the planet

6. Share info gained from NSA spying on public with DEA, FBI, local law enforcement to protect pharmaceuticals & liquor industry from competition from pot, or to protect polluters from activists

7. Falsify to judges and defense attorneys how allegedly incriminating info was discovered

8. Lie and deny to Congress you are spying on the public.

9. Criminalize the revelation of government crimes and spying as Espionage

10. Further criminalize whistleblowing as “Terrorism”, have compradors arrest innocent people, detain them, and confiscate personal effects with no cause or warrant (i.e. David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald)

Presto, what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens and actively helping destroy the planet while forestalling climate activism

124 Responses

  1. Create draconian sentences so that almost all criminal cases are handled through plea bargaining so evidence is not challenged in court.

    • That had been done in Michigan when its law against marijuana sale had a 20-year minimum sentence until the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.

      The Michigan Legislature in 1978 gave cocaine and heroin delivery sentences for certain amounts punishable by non-parolable life sentences and possession of 50 grams of cocaine or more punishable by a mandatory 10-20 years imprisonment.

      One of the positive aspects of the statute was that it encouraged arrestees to cooperate with police to avoid that onerous life sentence.

      Public outrage resulted in the mandatory life without parole law being amended to parolable life sentences.

      Many of the defendants who were ensnared by the Michigan drug lifer law were welfare mothers from the inner city who became couriers to supplement their income.

  2. 11. bomb and invade other countries willy nilly under the public propaganda program of protecting the homeland citizens

  3. 11. Tell the American people you are open to debate about the spying on American citizens that you claim to be not doing.

    • Actually, PBO has now tweaked that comment…. He most recently said he was in favor of “orderly” debate.

      Presumably that means ‘a debate whose parameters are defined by those responsible for the vast expansion of NSA powers (and FBI, DHS, CIA, etc) and the utter destruction of American Democracy’

      A people whose every communication is searched and cataloged by a secret police organization answerable to no one (or even those answerable to ‘someone’) is by definition a police state. That’s what we now have.

      This isn’t directed to the person to whom I’ve responded, but I’m sick to death of all the hedging ‘Gosh, this is almost like a police state’, or ‘If we’re not careful, policies like this could eventually lead to…yaddayaddayadda’.

      It’s a police state. Whether or not they’ve brought the hammer down on an individual known to us personally or not, that’s exactly what it is. Now.

      But… Y’know… So nice that he’s open to an “orderly” debate about the actions he’s going to continue taking regardless of broad public opposition to them and the inarguable Constitutional prohibition against them.

      What a peach he is. Expected an even more right wing Clinton, and I got an even more right wing Bush.

      But I’m sure our election process will allow a true opposition candidate to get on the ballot and repeal some of these vast new powers….(I kid, I kid.)

  4. 12. create brand name enemies that may or may not have any real existence beyond the existence of the brand name

  5. Very good analysis …… sadly true

  6. You forgot to mention hold citizens hostage under the guise of terror suspect detention to antagonise journalism.

  7. What will it take to get the attention of a sleepy, fat, lazy, public? Our rights and liberties are taken for granted even while they vanish. There should be riots over the treatment of Bradley Cooper and Edward Snowden, hero whistle-blowers, who revealed only some visible parts of the iceberg of lies and evil committed by and in the name of our government. The Republicans built most of the machinery, but Obama and his administration are enthusiastically turning the crank. The evil is so far below the radar, it isn’t even a campaign issue.

    • Jacob, I am afraid it will take a herculean effort to take the public away from their sports broadcasts and reality shows. I have coffee everyday at a local Starbucks and have a group of regulars (conservatives and progressives). The typical response is ‘it does not affect me'; the progressives are worse they are so adverse to attacking anything Obama and are willing to rationalize any/all mis-behavior from Mr. O.

      • Conservatives were just as bad in the Bush era. I am a progressive but I won’t defend Obama doing this. Considering I was hoping there would be real change with him, this whole thing on domestic spying has shown me there is no hope for the government unless we vote real people in, not old rich white men who banter in public about whatever social ill of the day is, and then pass other bills both sides don’t want you to know about.

      • “Progressive…Obama [supporter]” is an oxymoron, truly.

      • At this point, it’s spectacularly clear that anyone still defending the many egregious actions of the shockingly authoritarian Obama Administration has absolutely no claim on the label ‘progressive’ (however nebulous the word’s definition)

        I voted for him knowing full well he was a center-right Reagan Republican – only because the alternatives were quantifiably worse.

        That does not mean I am blind to his undeclared war on the Constitution and the American People.

        I hate the many attacks on PBO that are inventions born of racism (like, say, “the teleprompter president”), but he HAS done an enormous amount of real, lasting damage to the country; just like his fellow “Democrat” Bill Clinton – the man who codified this second gilded age in law.

        Once it became clear the unpopularity of certain ideas/actions/laws could not be passed by their Republican standard bearers, TPTB simply bought people operating under a different meaningless political label and got THEM to pass it.

        America IS a police state, and Obama is in no small part responsible for that inarguable fact. His decisions/policies as President – both passive and active – have in large part been utterly disgraceful.

        And the alternatives are still worse.

        The system that has been created does not allow for a candidate that seeks to in any way curtail or reform that system. The system protects/enables/enforces the will of the one percent. T’was ever thus, but lately they seem to have abandoned the desire to obscure that fact.

        We can’t vote ourselves out of this. I really don’t have any hope of a good solution that isn’t preceded by horrible and widespread suffering on the part of the people least deserving of it.

        “First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they ….”

        • Considering a lot of the policies in use now came from the Bush era, you can hardly go on to say Obama is the source of our current woes, especially since you only say “Obama is bad” and then leave it at that with nothing to back up your claims, so I won’t debate your opinions here.

          There’s a saying in IT that it’s easier to give power than it is to take it away. Government or any place in power is a prime example of that. I’m mad at Obama for not shutting down what is a blantantly unconstitutional system under the guise of “preventing terrorism”. I’m sure they’ve probably stopped a number of things from happening (by chance or otherwise), but the price is too high, and the problem is that it’s too late. Republican or Democrat, whoever comes next as president will probably expand the system and we’ll never know about it until there’s another leak, and the public won’t care because they’ll be too busy dividing us all.

    • “What will it take to get the attention of a sleepy, fat, lazy, public?”

      This is really the first step for creating a dictatorship. Encourage the masses to become consumers instead of citizens and, Pied Piper-like, distract them from the real, sordid world of governance in the hands of plutocrats and their handmaidens in the Republican and Democratic oligarchies.

      • Hey, it’s not really like, you know, a dictatorship or anything — it’s actually more like a pretty well-managed segue into a Pure Libertarian State of Mind… link to nakedcapitalism.com Or maybe given the technoramatationalist bent of it all, like that Keanu Reeves thing, what was it, The Matrix? Which is the Disney World facade behind which lies the Land of Soylent Green…

      • “What will it take to get the attention of a sleepy, fat, lazy, public?”

        What will it take to get the trolls in touch with reality instead of spinning their rants to conform to their illusions?

    • Jacob,
      if U think Bradley Cooper has it bad,
      consider the plight of Bradley Manning.

    • The suppression of Occupy showed that we have to do something more organized than mere protests and riots.

      People have repeatedly commented on how “millenials” are all focused on community, and structure, and fitting in. They’ve missed the meaning of this. When millenials are screwed over, they won’t get mad, they’ll get even.

      Witness Snowden, who keeps winning.

      There is going to be an honest-to-god revolution in the US. I have no idea what’s going to come after it (it could be terrible or great — it all depends on organizations) but the current situation is completely unsustainable, therefore it will collapse within 20 years.

    • Bradley Manning, not Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper is an American actor.

  8. I am with you all the way. Please do not stop we really need you

  9. * Set up border checkpoints 200 miles inside the border.
    * Create free-speech zones.
    * Use the TSA to sexually assault people at the airports. Expand TSA to trains, buses and shopping malls.
    * Put cities under martial law, violate everyone’s 4th Amendment right while searching for 2 suspects.
    * Completely ignore the Constitution, except when you can distort it beyond recognition to support abortion.

  10. “Presto, what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens and actively helping destroy the planet while forestalling climate activism.”

    Thank You Once Again Juan Cole, thanks a million! I think you’ve just about nailed it there!!

  11. You’re getting really good at these, Juan. This one is powerful.

    • if the populace is to dumb and brain washed to have known this before, wider circulation won’t make a difference.

  12. There is much outrage over here in England from some well know personalities. There will of course, be no cry of indignation from prime minster Cameron and Hague FM. What is so frightening for us Brits is the amount of control the Americans security services seem to have over even our air port staff, let alone our security services. These are dark times indeed. As a great philosopher once said. It unwise to be right when your government is wrong !!

  13. This is the best, most succinct summary of the situation I’ve seen.

  14. All done with the blessings of a FOX NEWS mentality helping those responsible for infringements on our constitution go unquestioned. David Gregory asked Ray Kelley, “If stop and frisk is done away with…will people die?” Of course Kelley said yes. How’s that for a leading question with no facts to back it up. In a larger context this is what the media is doing with Iranian nuclear program.

  15. What needs to happen is a worldwide demonstration about uk /USA bullying , and what they are doing Is wrong

  16. This is so serious!
    So in our face!
    So, I don’t give a shit about your rights!
    So, you have no rights!
    And so; what the hell are YOU going to do about it?
    Nothing; that’s what!
    This is the crux of what so infuriates me; we get kicked, beaten, abused and just lay down.
    This is not the America I grew up in; and by the gods; it’s exactly why I left!
    You all are getting exactly the thing you have voted for.
    Yes, your vote back on ya! How about them apples?

    • Of course, since the differences between available candidates is almost meaningless (apart from a social issue or two…not that you can even count on Dems to protect a woman’s autonomy over her own body anymore), blaming people for the outcome of a national election is a little less than constructive. What, Romney would have defended us from NSA spying? Lol.

      Let’s work together to change a dynamic that is hurtling the world toward oblivion, not blame those people least able to effect change for the actions and candidates of the wealthy class.

  17. 11. Corporate media to make the managed democracy appear legitimate

    12. Support reputation building of killers like Stanley McChrystal and Petraeus

    13. eventually ban videos like this speech of Jeremy Scahill in which he describes how our elements of our foreign policy have become an assignation policy and how it leads to the recruitment of more terrorists. He quotes a person from a remote village in Yemen that in 10 years Al Qaeda was unable to gain a foothold, but after the US drone strikes, we now embrace Al Qaeda. In other words, our drones are more successful recruitment tools than the “terrorists.” The title of the talk is secret wars.

    link to archive.org

  18. This column by Juan Cole is linked in Glenn Greenwald’s twitter feed.

    When the NSA stories first broke, I think there were about 130,000 people signed up for Glenn’s twitter feed. I go there all the time to check it out, but I have never signed up.

    The number this morning is over 230,000

    When will the number of twitter followers exceed one half a million?

    When will it reach one million?

    As more and more stories come out from the Guardian, by Glenn and others there like Spencer Ackerman, the number of twitter followers can only go up.

    • or,
      allow Senators like Ron Wyden to read classified info,
      but the threaten him with imprisonment if he tells what he knows.
      -

      • I am grateful that Wyden (and one or two others) have made the statements they’ve made on this subject.

        But…. y’know… At the same time, if they sincerely meant those oaths of office they took….

  19. I think you overlooked something a bit more basic — viz., pass a USA PATRIOT Act, preaching and praising patridiotism. Moreover, in referring to 312 million innocent citizens, you would seem to have forgotten all the rest of the world, which of course consists of lesser (non-US) beings (like me). Still, your recipe strikes me as most stasifactory.

  20. Detained under terror legislation?

    Well, Miranda is the partner of someone who terrifies the terrorists running the UK and US governments.

    Ergo he is a terrorist…

  21. Falsely detained?

    Innocent people?

    Oopise, professor:

    Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.

    It’s ok, now, Professor. Glenn Greenwald himself has given you permission to acknowledge that the “innocent person” who was “falsely detained” was, in fact, stopped for carrying stolen, classified documents which were found on the searched equipment.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why people continue to take Glenn Greenwald’s self-serving claims at face value. Something I learned from Bush’s WMD scam: when you catch the used car salesman in his second or third lie, you walk away.

    • I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve had trouble understanding simple things and been foolish enough to try to draw ridiculous equivalencies.

      I’m also fairly sure it won’t be the last time. Your reply to this comment should be even more special.

      • A very succinct and accurate assessment, Edger. Well done. The only way to improve on it is to ignore the troll completely.

      • “I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve had trouble understanding simple things and been foolish enough to try to draw ridiculous equivalencies. I’m also fairly sure it won’t be the last time. Your reply to this comment should be even more special.”

        Nowhere in your reply to Joe do I see any challenge to the substance of his remarks regarding Greenwald. The only thing you seem to have done is mount an ad-hominum attack against Joe personally, indicating a lack of substance and an inability to challenge him on the issue under discussion.

        • … you got to love the way these two stand with swords drawn, back to back against the increasingly angry and unruly mob, Hector and Paris, defending the Gates of Troy… Not that they don’t occasionally bicker a little, for the benefit of “credibility…”

        • Bill and I have political viewpoints that have very little in common, JT. You just can’t tell from the eccentric bubble in which you ensconce yourself.

          It’s always the most extreme people who think the world can be meaningfully divided into “people like me” and “the other 99.5%, which is all the same.”

    • If, indeed, Miranda was carrying “stolen” documents, then it was the UK’s responsibility to arrest him, charge him, and detain him for trial — or for extradition to the victim nation. The mere fact that UK did not so proceed is enough to explode your point, or at least to beg considerable wonderment. In awarding Miranda his liberty after nine hours, the UK had no right to confiscate any of his possessions — either that, or they let free a potential terrorist despite probable cause. A suitably tutored inference would be that, in detaining Miranda as long as they did but then confiscating his electronic stuff, the UK was obliging the USA with a quiet favour despite misgivings that what is was doing risked being unlawful under Schedule 7.

        • Oh, that sort of stuff will all be sorted out when it comes to trial. When it comes to trial. When it comes to trial.

          And besides, everything they do is LEGAL. They say so, right on the packaging material…

        • “What about if the NSA stole the documents from us in the first place?”

          First of all, I don’t think any of us knows what was on the thumb drive that Greenwald’s partner was carrying, so we don’t know if it was “ours” or not. Second, to “steal” something is considered theft, and theft is unlawful. To my knowledge, the NSA’s metadata collection and Prism program have not been deemed unlawful by an legal authority or court, and therefore the material cannot be considered “stolen.”

        • What about if the NSA stole the documents from us in the first place?

          You’re using (I hope) the word “stole” in a figurative sense. Swiping data that you don’t have the right to take is literal theft.

          But to play along: you are legally liable for theft even if the item you stole had been previously stolen. Imagine a car thief who gets car-jacked. The car jackers could not cite the car’s status as stolen goods as a defense.

      • “In awarding Miranda his liberty after nine hours, the UK had no right to confiscate any of his possessions…”

        Wrong. You have that exactly backwards. It was Mr. Greenwald’s partner who had no recognized “right” to transit the UK in the possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden. UK intelligence obviously, and correctly, works with US intelligence, and for the UK to intercept a “courier” for Greenwald was legitimate. And don’t use the “journalist” defense, as Greenwald’s partner was not recognized as a legitimate journalist or member of the media. He was a courier for Greenwald, and he was caught with unlawfully obtained, highly classified intelligence.

        • You have evidence that Mr. Miranda was in “possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden” that you are withholding from the UK investigators who detained and questioned him for nine hours and confiscated his equipment missed and failed to arrest him for?

          You do realize that withholding evidence of a crime is a crime, of course, and you’ll be surrendering yourself and your evidence that they missed to these professional investigators who missed it asap, of course.

        • the issue is that he wasn’t detained for having stolen “property” but as a terrorist. That is Orwellian.

        • UK “intelligence” has no legal right or power to steal someone’s possessions based on the suspicion that that person may have documents which US intelligence would not like them to have.

          I mean seriously! Joe from Lowell never, ever answers the question of what *UK* law he thinks Miranda broke, because Miranda didn’t break any law in the UK.

          Miranda was “caught” possessing lawfully received documents which are completely legal to publish in the United Kingdom, Bill. It’s horrifying that you would consider that justification to detain him and steal his stuff.

        • It’s heartbreaking that this ‘Bill’ person actually meant that comment.

          Look up the law under which he was detained. It is spectacularly clear and obvious that his detention was unlawful. It is a law written and intended for “terrorists” – even it’s authors have expressed outrage at it’s application in this case. As for your assertion that it was unlawful for a reporter to accept leaked material from Snowden… No, it wasn’t. That’s what having a free press means, Bill. It does not mean ‘You’re free to report on anything those in power allow you to report’ (for the moment, the US does not have an Official Secrets Act… just underhanded and illegal intimidation tactics against reporters and their sources [and families, it seems]).

          Do you really not understand how that defeats entirely the purpose of a free press?

          That you defend this suicidal authoritarianism and state intimidation (and by extension the mass surveillance of every person on the planet) against the families of journalists is staggering.

          How far we’ve fallen that you consider their actions to be remotely acceptable.

          Shame, shame.

        • “You have evidence that Mr. Miranda was in “possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden…?”

          Had you actually read the article linked to Professor Cole’s piece, Edger, you, too, would have seen the sentence I have quoted below for your edification.

          “Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.”

        • “the issue is that he wasn’t detained for having stolen “property” but as a terrorist. That is Orwellian.”

          Consider the possibility that the “terrorist” provision may have been used to interrogate Miranda, determine if it was likely he was a “courier” carrying intelligence material unlawfully passed on by Snowden, and confiscate it. Much as Al Capone, who had committed murder, racketeering, and other illegal activity was finally put away for tax evasion.

        • “As for your assertion that it was unlawful for a reporter to accept leaked material from Snowden… No, it wasn’t.”

          If you had actually read (or understood) what I wrote, Mr. Compton, you would have noted that I did not state that it was “unlawful for a reporter to accept leaked material from Snowden.” I wrote specifically: “It was Mr. Greenwald’s partner who had no recognized “right” to transit the UK in the possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden. Note that: “unlawfully passed on by Snowden.” Not “unlawfully accepted by Greenwald.” Big difference.

        • “Miranda was “caught” possessing lawfully received documents which are completely legal to publish in the United Kingdom, Bill. It’s horrifying that you would consider that justification to detain him and steal his stuff.”

          Miranda was not, and is not, a member of the press, Nathaniel. He was a courier, plain and simple. Assuming there was a strong suspicion that he might be carrying thumb drives containing highly classified material unlawfully passed to Greenwald and his associates by Snowden, the UK authorities had every right to intercept them. That they used the “Terrorism” provision of the law to detain Miranda was their decision. But intercepting classified material on a courier that was unlawfully revealed by Snowden is not a “free press” issue.

        • So what Bill is left unable to explain is why, if Miranda was indeed in possession of illegally obtained materials, the UK did not charge him with such — or offer him up for extra[ordinary ren]dition to the USA where such charges could be prosecuted. Was the UK then derelict in not charging him and in allowing him to depart? It is incumbent upon you to explain all of this stasifactorily if you want to legitmize the UK’s piracy of Miranda’s property. BTW, data of any sort is an abstraction and not in itself anything ‘physical'; hence, it cannot in any real (non-figurative) sense be “stolen” as nobody actually OWNS it. Yes, secrets exist and can be broken and leaked, but it is only power or consensual agreements which engender and enforce their existence in the first place. Who/Whom. Here, the secrets are those of the WHO, the leaks are those of the WHOM.

      • If, indeed, Miranda was carrying “stolen” documents, then it was the UK’s responsibility to arrest him, charge him, and detain him for trial — or for extradition to the victim nation. The mere fact that UK did not so proceed is enough to explode your point

        This isn’t actually true. Governments decline to press charges against foreign nationals whose embassies get involved all the time.

        Anyway, we don’t have to judge whether the documents that Greenwald acknowledges his husband was carrying were stolen by making some deduction from the British police behavior. We know, for a certainty, that they were documents Stolen by Snowden. Period, we’re done here. The Snowden documents were stolen. End of story.

        In awarding Miranda his liberty after nine hours, the UK had no right to confiscate any of his possessions

        This is false as well. From plants to pocketknives, governments confiscate things that violate the law all the time at borders and airports without pressing criminal charges.

        I sincerely hope you are not practicing law.

        • You have evidence that Mr. Miranda was in “possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden” that you are withholding from the UK investigators who detained and questioned him for nine hours and confiscated his equipment missed and failed to arrest him for?

          Yes, I do. I have the confession of his co-conspirator, Glenn Greenwald, in which he states that Miranda was carrying stolen documents, from the trove of documents Snowden stole.

          The question of why the Brits let him go is as irrelevant as the question of why Dick Cheney has been charged. Maybe it was politics – they were contacted by the Brazilian embassy. Maybe it was an intelligence operation – they want to watch his movements and see who he leads them to. Maybe they put a GPS becaon on him. (I strongly suggest you all give serious consideration to pulling out your fillings, because you just never know.) Maybe it is the muddy legal standing of someone who is kinda sorta a journalist in possession of leaked materials.

          None of this matters a whit. We know, beyond any plausible shadow of a doubt, that Miranda was carrying stolen documents, a subset of the cache of stolen documents Snowden took. We do not need to look at the British government’s actions to determine whether he had stolen documents. His coconspirator – who is, inexplicably, considered a reliable source among the people feigning ignorance on this – has confessed.

          We’re done here. Come up with another pretext. You don’t have a legal to stand on with this performance.

    • “…stopped for carrying stolen, classified documents which were found on the searched equipment.”

      Sloppy, inaccurate argument. All sensitive data would most certainly have been heavily encrypted. Otherwise said documents would have been discovered and Miranda promptly arrested. Didn’t happen.

      “…self-serving claims…” Slanderous statement not based in fact.

      “…Bush’s WMD scam…” To compare this to the actions of journalist Greenwald is to turn reality on its head. The WMD scam would be more accurately compared to the subject of Greenwald’s reporting.

      • Otherwise said documents would have been discovered and Miranda promptly arrested. Didn’t happen.

        Answered, above.

        To compare this to the actions of journalist Greenwald is to turn reality on its head. The WMD scam would be more accurately compared to the subject of Greenwald’s reporting.

        Wow. You really have no basis for ascertaining truth beyond political convenience, do you?

      • Shorter Bill: dunata de hoi prouchontes prassousi kai hoi astheneis xunchorousin,(Thucydides 5.89).

        Translation: The year 416 BCE was a very good year unless you were a Melian.

        Billy bud, I just gotta break my silence here for your sake and just tell ya’ll to take ‘er easy – yer all as fussed up as the rooster in my pasture, but you’re so “can’t see the silvas for the arbores” that you fail even to ‘ppreciate that your side has won. Pathetic. You’ve won and you’re still angry and defensive and spend hours responding to comments on this blog that will make about as much a dent in the power structures of this former res publica as my shoveling straw ‘crost my barnyard. ‘Cuz we all know Washington ‘ll do what it wants with whomever it wants, whenever it wants. You sound like a bureaucrat or conservative academic or lawyer, defending power mightily – if you are so be it, but if so, ya’ll could use a good dose of Tacitus in my books. Power to be trusted? At this late date?

        Some friendly advice, bud – the world hates a bad winner. Maybe that’s why people around the world view the US so . . . oh, heck with it.

        O hominem ad servitutem paratum!

  22. “If you aren’t doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear from the government’s spying.” How many times have you seen some that comment from some government lackey? Well, I guess this incident conclusively blows that theory out of the water.

  23. The real nightmare of Snowden’s revelations is that now we know that top secret NSA databases are 99.99% meaningless garbage: private emails, casual posts from social networks, pointless metadata for many years, etc. In pre-computer era this would be like collecting ALL used tickets, invoices, bills, etc.

    Regardless of legality, this absurd garbage collection is doomed to end badly.

    • 99.9% of what is captured on store security cameras is equally meaningless garbage. Person shopping, person shopping, person shopping, person scratching himself while shopping, person shopping….

      So, does that render the use of security cameras pointless?

      • Local video monitoring of public spaces with a few days retention is one thing. Centralized global monitoring with months/years retention is something completely different.

        • Henry,

          That’s a different question. The question is, does the collection of mainly useless information render the system useless?

          Let’s go back to the Boston Marathon bombing. All of the footage collected by the security cameras covering the street near the finish line was completely useless…except for those few minutes of footage that captured the Tsarnaev brothers setting down the bags.

      • Actually, at places I have worked, most of the cameras were aimed at “employees stuffing expensive electronic doohickie into crotch or purse because abusive management and minuscule and diminishing pay and hours and termination or “repricing” of benefits…”

        Yeah, “security cams” are just the same thing as data-grab sweeps being conducted by all and sundry in the state-security apparatus, following the trail blazed by every fearful and domineering set of humans in all the history I have ever heard of.

        It appears we are in an era when rulers, up to now, have been caught flat-footed and booted out by people who were steps ahead of them in ability to organize via electronic media. And of course nobody in Government would then see that it was “vital to their personal interests” to have a chokehold grip on the throat of that form of vox populi…

        Where do you spend your working days, again?

      • when I go to a shopping mall, I’m out in public.
        I have no expectation of privacy.

        that’s the difference.

        • Yep. In contrast, it is well established that private letters, phone calls, and mail — and so also email, etc. — have a strong expectation of privacy.

          This was one of the issues over which the English Civil War was fought and it was one of the issues over which the Glorious Revolution was instigated. A government which does not respect this particular right to privacy — which is embedded in US law in the form of the Fourth Amendment — is a government which is trying to suppress all dissent. They knew this in the 1600s and we know it now.

          Such an abusive government is illegitimate and should be liquidated.

        • Brian,

          The question here was about whether the collection of informationi, 99.9% of which was useless, has a purpose. Care to address that?

    • Software allows them to acquire an absolutely horrifying amount of data about Americans. They can predict behavior, they can monitor real time reaction to whatever they like (and learn from their mistakes), they can trace the origins of dissent back to the individual who first inspired others to think in a way counter to the aims of those in power… The applications are limitless, and if you think it’s all just been done willy-nilly with no practical applications already in mind, then… Well, you’re wrong.

      The information is already being laundered for other police agencies whose charters prevent this sort of data collection. That’s a known fact.

      All hyperbole aside, this is the architecture of absolute tyranny. Now, not at some vague future date. Police state. Right now.

      Do you really think the amount of data in any way makes it unwieldy or useless?

      The applications are as staggering as their horrific as they are antithetical to any meaningful freedom whatsoever.

      • Nathanael,

        it is well established that private letters, phone calls, and mail — and so also email, etc. — have a strong expectation of privacy.

        Not quite right. The contents of letters, phone calls, and mail have a strong expectation of privacy. The outside of the envelope, the billing data on the phone call, and the email equivalent do not. This, too, has been extensively litigated.

        When you give something to other people so they can look at it and gain certain information from it – the postal service looking at the address, the phone company routing your call – you do not have an expectation of privacy.

  24. Well, of course, the big one is:

    11. Justify all of the above with the Orwellian claim that you are “keeping America safe” from terrorists who mostly have been created by doing all of the above.

  25. The following list looks like a solution which Congressmen, Lawyers and Judiciary ought to consider in light of the fact that they especially are being spied on as Whistleblower Tice says:

    link to boilingfrogspost.com

    The EyeOpener Report- Compromised: How the National Security State Blackmails the Government
    Wednesday, 26. June 2013

    BFP Video While the world watches every twist and turn in the unfolding Edward Snowden drama, the story becomes less and less about the information he revealed and more and more about an international manhunt. But if the issues of PRISM and spying on China and GCHQ’s spying at the G20 are falling off the radar, then how much further off the radar is the story of Russell Tice?

    Join us for this week’s EyeOpener Report to examine political blackmail-from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, to Ruppert Murdoch’s hacking scandal, the latest revelations by NSA whistleblower Russ Tice and FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, and the role of the US media as gatekeeper for these government illegalities by censorship and or well-designed misdirection.
    ………

    link to washingtonsblog.com

    NSA Whistleblower: NSA Spying On – and Blackmailing – Top Government Officials and Military Officers
    
WashingtonsBlog

    Whistleblower Says Spy Agency Targeting Top American Leaders

    NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping – told Peter B. Collins on Boiling Frogs Post (the website of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds):

    Tice: Okay. They went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things–they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people. They went after antiwar groups. They went after U.S. international–U.S. companies that that do international business, you know, business around the world. They went after U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business. They went after NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work. They went after a few antiwar civil rights groups. So, you know, don’t tell me that there’s no abuse, because I’ve had this stuff in my hand and looked at it. And in some cases, I literally was involved in the technology that was going after this stuff.
    ……………

    So, I think the entire political, economic spectrum can get behind the following bill:

    link to firedoglake.com

    Come Saturday Morning: Reclaiming Our LIBERT-E

    By: Phoenix Woman Saturday July 6, 2013
    Democratic United States Representative John Conyers and his Republican colleague Justin Amash don’t agree on a lot of things. But they are, like most of us, united in being aghast at all the government snooping being done to us, for us, against us, and on everyone else in the world. Unlike most of us, they’re in a position to do something about it — or at the very least shame those Beltway officials who would perpetuate this snooping.

    To that end, they’ve introduced H.R. 2399, the “Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act,” or the LIBERT-E Act for short.

    ………

    Congressmen Also See:

    link to huffingtonpost.com

    Drawing Down: How To Roll Back Police Militarization In America

    Radley Balko
    Posted: 08/15/2013

    End the Drug War

    End Anti-Drug Byrne Grants

    End The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program

    End The “Quitable Sharing” Civil Asset Forfeiture Program

    End The 1033 Program

    Reform Department of Homeland Security Grants

    End Federal Medical Marijuana Raids

    Return SWAT To Its Original Purpose

    Mandate Transparency

    Change Police Culture

  26. At least STASI authoritarian states provided housing and health care.

  27. 11. Justify it all with made-up or exaggerated threats.

    @Joefromlowell Yes. It is pointless. That’s why a lot of stores have fake cameras. Because the point is intimidation. And the same is true of this spying program (panoptic tactics). The difference is, we choose to shop in a given store, this subjecting ourselves to possible surveillance. We have not, however, opted into some deal with the NSA. If walmart was spying on us in a McDonalds bathroom, that would be a problem, too.

    • No, Dan B, stores do not have cameras (which are frequently hidden, which would seem to reduce their intimidation factor) for intimidation. They have them so they can go back over the footage after something is stolen to see who did it.

      Which brings us back to the NSA. If they were collecting data for the purpose of intimidation, why would they try to keep it secret? Does that mean Greenwald and Snowden, by publicizing it and making people afraid, are working for the NSA?

      • You are responding to a lower form of argument. The issue is not
        ‘intimidation’ but how the information can be used now, and if not now, in the future under different Presidents. I think you know that.

        • I don’t think “a lower form of argument” is a fair way to characterize Dan B.’s point, which I responded to.

          Frankly, I think it’s a more honest and substantive point than most that have been addressed to me on this thread, even if I don’t find it convincing.

          I don’t think you should be jumping in and telling me what Dan B.’s argument is and is not, and I certainly don’t think your characterization is at all correct in this case. That he sets up the argument as a choice between cameras providing information vs. cameras intimidating people strongly suggests that the words you are putting in his mouth do not belong there.

  28. Lots of commentary about this, including the NYT article, link to nytimes.com, from which Joe selected the paragraph above.

    Including folks who claim to be as particular and “reality-based” as Joe might think himself. Here’s the text that follows a quote of that same NYT fragment, from the Telegraph Blogs by another such person:

    So that’s the first bit of misinformation nailed. Mr Miranda was deeply involved in the work to disseminate the NSA leaks. He is no mere friend or relative being squeezed in order to stop a journalist doing his job.

    But still, can his detention be justified? Is it legal to hold him for nine hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000? Carrying documents related to the NSA with the intention of exposing illegal or unjustified surveillance does not make Mr Miranda a terrorist.

    And here’s where the frightening reach of British anti-terrorism law becomes clear. Read Schedule 7 and it is quite clear that officers do not need to suspect that an individual is a terrorist or involved in terrorism. They are allowed to stop, question and detain individuals in order to ascertain whether they might be a terrorist. They can stop anyone at all, and hold them for nine hours.

    Finally, as the analyst Joshua Foust points out, the Terrorism Act, includes within its definition of terrorism the use or threat of action that “is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system,” in which I think we can include the leaking of documents detailing the use of electronic surveillance. [That would require a pretty skewed reading and application, this old attorney opines.]

    So while Mr Miranda no doubt spent a torrid time in a small room at Heathrow, he was by no means merely the victim of a plot to intimidate his partner. The British security services had a legitimate reason – and a duty – to detain and question the man.

    But by holding him for nine hours they have given Mr Greenwald’s cheerleaders a PR victory. My Twitter timeline has filled with journalists mistakenly fretting that their own wives and partners could be targeted. That is the wrong lesson to learn.

    The real problem here is the way we allowed sweeping powers of detention to be imposed at borders, allowing officers to stop and question anyone – with or without good reason. We should all worry about that.

    link to blogs.telegraph.co.uk

    So the deal is, this was all “legal.” And the remedy, if there is one, is to change the law. A neat trick in present circumstances, as the garottes are tightening on the ability to actually protect rights.

    And some folks are all hot about the virtues and effects of “international law.” Well, it appears that Schedule 7 is, shall we say, “inconsistent” with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, to which the UK was a “consensus” signatory, though apparently claiming the “right” to “opt out” if the authorities so choose. link to google.com So what is “the law,” then, or is it just whatever Government and its agents choose to say it is?

    And to claim that this action was not intended to harass or affect Greenwald is getting pretty close to the kind of things used car salesmen say to sucker you into buying a beater. And Obama has told a whole lot more than three lies, as have Capper and so many others. How do you walk away from THEIR selling, and killing, lot? Move to Brazil?

    Note, of course, that there’s no mention here of the interests of the Brazilian government in what is done to one of its citizens…

    • JT: I am amused by your rhetoric-laden comments. Some of them are quite clever, and I think it’s interesting that you get under so many peoples’ skins. Right on. But this is a lucid, straight-forward comment that addresses key points in the debate. How do you decided to do one of your immitation Joyce comments and one like this?

  29. end of Miranda rights?

    end of all rights?
    end of alright?

      • Care to comment on the violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, or do you just want to blather pro-NSA nonsense when it’s easy?

        • Complying with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is like upholding the Constitution: Optional, or even nugatory, if some bit of “National Interest” is invoked by Someone In Authority…

  30. Pre-charge, pre-trial and other extrajudicial punishment and harassment, “just because we can” — as Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras have experienced for years — along with all the victims of “stop and frisk” — keeps you in your place and lets you know “who’s boss.” See also criminalizing photography and other recording of public actions by police, security guards, whomever has the authorities in their pocket.

    • Exactly.

      I particularly loved the ‘You’re infringing on that uniformed, on-duty officer’s right to privacy by filming his epic beatdown of a helpless homeless person!’ defense.

      Their behavior proves they have no shame, but their justifications prove they have no freakin’ sense.

  31. The Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980 requires the heads of all U.S. intelligence agencies to inform the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and its House counterpart abreast of all significant developments in intelligence.

    In practice, this has not been perfect as loopholes exist which allowed operations like the Iran-Contra scandal to flourish and long go undetected by Congress.

    • James Clapper has admitted to outright lying to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Evidence is piling up that Keith Alexander lied to both the Senate and House committees.

      They need to be in prison for their crimes. Their actions are the actions of traitors, as they help nobody but al-Qaeda.

    • Not only that, but the senate intelligence (sic) committee was getting the facts that contradicted the propaganda from the Bush/Cheney administration, and all the senators remained mute allowing the United States and its British poodle to wage an illegal and immoral war on Iraq that has destroyed the lives of millions of people in one way or another. Where were the profiles in courage then? Where are they now?

  32. It is interesting that 70 years ago British and American soldiers, sailors and airmen fought to rid Europe of fascist regimes, and now their children and grandchildren are aiding and abetting or aquiescing to Britain and America converting to fascism.

    • America had almost no intelligence organizational activity before Pearl Harbor. It has been said it was a few file cabinets within the U.S. Department of State. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had vast and complex domestic intelligence networks going into WWII.

      Reinhard Gehlen, the Nazi spymaster was not only not prosecuted, but remained as Germany’s top intelligence officer until the late 1960s. He assisted in building the U.S. intelligence community to where it exists today and was revered by President Eisenhower. Klaus Barbie was an agent of the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps and also was a paid operative of the West German federal intelligence services. Former Nazis like Otto Skorzeny and Alois Brunner helped establish many dictatorships in the Middle East.

      It is undeniable that the U.S. and other governments saw value as anti-communists in the former leaders of Nazi Germany and attempted to emulate their prowess in intelligence activities.

    • I briefly discussed this issue with Rahm Emanuel, who had left the White House staff and was killing time as my congressman while waiting to run for mayor. Rahm was the first speaker at a D-Day celebration hosted by the American Legion, and he began his remarks with a 5-minute panegyric for that great American war hero Ronald Reagan. I approached him afterwards and asked “What was that nonsense about Reagan?” He surprised me with a courteous reply: “Didn’t people love him? Wouldn’t you like someone like that with more liberal social policies?” That was a new one to me. I mentioned it to my priest, who gave me a disgusted look and said “He was quoting Obama’s book.”

    • FIFY: “It is interesting that 70 years ago British and American soldiers, sailors and airmen fought to rid Europe of fascist regimes [in Germany],”

  33. The evidence just continues to accumulate that the US and Britain are on a trajectory towards authoritarians states that have no use for democracy:

    “Later, as Rusbridger (editor of The Guardian) describes, “one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred” when a pair of GCHQ agents oversaw the “the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement” which contained portions of the Snowden documents.” link to commondreams.org

  34. More from Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian:

    “David Miranda, Schedule 7 and the danger all reporters now face: As the events in a Heathrow transit lounge – and the Guardian offices – have shown, the threat to journalism is real and growing by Alan Rusbridger” – link to commondreams.org

  35. “War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.” Smedley Butler

    Smedley Butler based that statement on American aggression in the early 20th Century against Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and China. War remains a racket in the 21st Century. The only differences are our war on terror is more global and the weapons more high tech and we have the military-industrial-security complex added to the profiteers.

    • Careful, Mr. Bodden. You are encroaching on Mr. McPhee’s territory with your reference to Smedley Butler. Smedley Butler’s phrase, “War is just a racket,” has been one of Mr. McPhee’s favorites among those words and phrases he routinely uses from his stack of 3×5 index cards. In fact, he has used it so often that he may claim copyright privileges and demand that you request permission before using it yourself.

      • So why do you even respond to McPhee? Does he get under your skin? Bravo! Mr. McPhee, you have won. People read and react to your posts. You stimulate all sorts of discussions! You’re over-the-board use of English is sometimes annoying and sometimes hilarious. It’s hard to imagine IC without you!

    • I’ve always thought the “War is a Racket” argument ignored important factors like ideology, culture, and even (oh yeah) legitimate security concerns that have always been part of why polities engage in armed conflict.

      Is war a racket for al Qaeda? Or do they do it because they believe in the cause?

      How about the British and French declaring war against Nazi Germany in September 1939? Was that a “racket?”

      And what are we to make of socialist revolutions? Or the people who went to Spain to fight on the loyalist side? “War is a racket, except when it’s carried out by noble proletarians led by dashing intellectuals who happen to remind me of myself!”

  36. So, as for this theory that the search of Miranda means journalists – not “journalists carrying stolen classified documents across international borders,” but simply “journalists,” unmodified – are in danger: I look forward to seeing all of the stories of journalists who aren’t engaged in international criminal conspiracies being detained. If that were to happen, it sure would prove the point.

    But…but…what if it doesn’t? What if this was a particular case in which a journalist (‘s husband) was stopped because he was carrying stolen classified documents? Wouldn’t that rather step on a much-beloved narrative?

  37. This is from one of the better commentaries of the Miranda affair:

    “Two great forces are now in fierce but unresolved contention. The material revealed by Edward Snowden through the Guardian and the Washington Post is of a wholly different order from WikiLeaks and other recent whistle-blowing incidents. It indicates not just that the modern state is gathering, storing and processing for its own ends electronic communication from around the world; far more serious, it reveals that this power has so corrupted those wielding it as to put them beyond effective democratic control. It was not the scope of NSA surveillance that led to Snowden’s defection. It was hearing his boss lie to Congress about it for hours on end.” link to theguardian.com

  38. Thanks to our resident trolls we have been diverted to some degree from discussing the Kafkaesque abuse of powers by the British Gestapo working in happy compliance with their colleagues in the United States. The law cited by those supporting the extraordinary detention of David Miranda was cobbled together to detain terrorists. No fair-minded, independent thinker (trolls excluded) would have attached the terrorist label to Greenwald, Miranda or Poitras. They do, however, disturb the emotions of those people of an authoritarian mold who are offended by exposure of embarrassisng truths.

  39. I may have missed a post or perhaps events in Egypt overshadowed the revelation that NSA violated their own minimal restrictions thousands of times. Of course there is the reassuring excuse that many of those violations were “operator errors” or mistakes. Has this already been discussed at length here?

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