Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Neolib Hack Samuelson Defends NSA Invasion Of Privacy

"In every interview Snowden has relied on the simple notion that informed the founders of our nation regarding the primacy of truth in public discourse.   His commitment to that ideal cannot be comprehended by a mass media culture of careerism informed by public relations that trivializes all differences of truth and logic into incomprehensible mulch. His is instead the simple veracity of the once honored slogan that the truth shall set us free and that it is overwhelming government power that is most threatening to that freedom." - Robert Scheer, on  smirkingchimp.com

I figured that eventually the WaPo Neoliberal hack Robert Samuelson would chirp up in a column to praise the NSA, and diss Edward Snowden - while again seeking to confuse his readers in conflating truths and jabberwocky.   Before even getting to his nonsense, it really ought not be a stretch to grasp that arch-Neoliberals would be wholesale salivating for the national security state, just as they drool for the military.

As Thomas Frank observes in his remarkable expose of the market worshippers, One Market Under God, the Neoliberal basic imperative is "let them eat stocks" (or mutual funds). This despite the fact that since the investment trusts of the 1920s (precursor to today's mutual funds) the traders and brokers have regarded the ordinary public as a "dumb herd" (p. 109) and sheep to be shorn. After the 1960s the message softened  - in order to lure more proles into the market - but the subtext has been the same: popularize the "Street", make people believe they're big shots too, and wait for the crash to suck up their assets.

The main message of the Neoliberal imperative: People must not depend on the government for their security, including for Social Security, veterans' benefits, Medicare or Medicaid.  If they are to sustain themselves they must be cajoled to do it by investment in the market where all factors are "democratized"  - and no one suffers, i.e. by having to pay more taxes so some old fart can get his prostate cancer treatments, or pay his monthly heating bills.

And to ensure this imperative is met, the Neoliberal pushes the political matrix to allocate ever more resources to military and national security interests, thereby leaving little for domestic social insurance programs. This, in fact, is what we beheld last month, when in a "bipartisan" deal, the Dems allowed the Reepos an extra $23b to use for military spending, while their side sucked up the loss in compensating domestic cuts - mainly by disallowing the extension of unemployment insurance.

For the same reason, a hack like Samuelson would plump for the NSA and the overall national security budget (now at $71b /year) increasing - again to put more pressure on domestic spending programs, including food stamps, Medicare etc. Samuelson actually has the nerve to spout this disingenuous tripe:

"There is more than a little hypocrisy to the outcry that the government, through the National Security Agency (NSA), is systematically destroying Americans’ right to privacy. Edward Snowden’s revelations have been stripped of their social, technological and historical context. Unless you’ve camped in the Alaskan wilderness for two decades, you know — or should — that millions upon millions of Americans have consciously and, probably in most cases, eagerly surrendered much of their privacy by embracing the Internet and social media."

Let's back up so that casual readers aren't lured into buying this bollocks. As I noted before, people willingly putting out their information in the expectation of social communication or comity- say on a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, is NOT the same as having their social intent perverted by some impersonal spook technology to vacuum up every word for filing and cross-referencing.  In the latter case,  collecting every fucking thing surreptitiously then compiling it into a database for which criminal intent or terrorism might later be associated (including domestic terrorism for protesting against a fracking operation, or demonstrating against Wall Street shysters.)  Recall that investigative reporter Christopher Ketcham learned that  NSA's Main Core:

"Can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.”

Thus it  ought to be a no brainer that Samuelson's efforts to assuage doubts are not to be trusted. Apart from which, the casual blog poster, or FB poster doesn't expect his words to be collected by these disreputable sneaks and assembled in a program called "Main Core" - because those words were interpreted by some snotty eggheads as being indicative of "an enemy of the state".

None of that downside is noted by Samuelson, but we know this sort of 'dodge and hide' template is his forte.   Indeed, after his initial codswallop Samuelson seeks to further justify it by writing:

"The Internet is a vehicle for self-promotion, personal advertising and the pursuit of celebrity"

Again, even if it is, it doesn't mean people ALSO welcome having all their ruminations, images, beliefs, philosophies compiled by spooks into some nefarious hidden database that regards these as evidence for being an "enemy of the state".  No, people expect that IF that is done - and indeed it is using the NSA's MUSCULAR, PRISM and Xkeyscore programs - they want the fourth amendment followed and that means an individualized warrant brought before a proper FISA court - not the rubber stampers we have now.

Oh, and then we have Samuelson's brilliant  "solution":

"If Americans think their privacy is dangerously diminished, there are remedies. They can turn off their PCs, toss their smartphones and smash their tablets"

Yes, seriously, these are the very words of this character. If you are humbugged by the notion of the spooks vacuuming up all your words, beliefs, pictures and filing them into a Main Core program for "enemy of the state" profiling - you can always disconnect! Toss that Ipad or notebook down the chute and let not your hearts be troubled!

Oh, and then there's the "commercial scare" routine again:

"To these conscious sacrifices of privacy must be added murkier, collateral losses that are orchestrated by the world’s Googles, Facebooks, service providers and “data brokers,” writes Alice Marwick of Fordham University in the New York Review of Books. They scan users’ digital decisions (sites visited, products and services purchased, habits and hobbies favored) to create databases, often merged with other socio-economic information"

But again, Google, Facebook, ISPs etc don't have the power to take away your freedom, like the government does (say by invocation of its 'Continuity of Government' program - with all the data they've gathered on you being an "enemy of the state")

And then the hack strikes again:

"The NSA’s damage to privacy is dwarfed by the impact of market activity...... Suddenly, Big Brother looms. In our mind’s eye, we see the NSA’s computers scouring our every phone call. We’re exposed to constant snooping and the possibility that the government will misuse the information it finds.

The reality is far more limited. The NSA is governed by legal restrictions. It does not examine the full database. It searches individual numbers only after it has determined there’s a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a number might be linked to terrorist groups"

Puh-leeze! All of this amounts to disinformation. The same sort of twisted nonsense Samuelson delivered earlier regarding "deficits" being created by JFK, during his administration, which I have already skewered. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/07/thats-right-now-blame-60s-jfk-for.html

The reality is that Samuelson's cited "legal restrictions"  governing the NSA are little better than the merest figleaf. Those (original) restrictions ceased to exist when the FISA law was changed after the Bushistas' illegal wiretapping over 2005-08. Instead of prosecuting the Bushistas, a compliant congress and the courts excused the transgressions and actually made them lawful!  Hence, whatever protections people think they have disappeared when the illegal variant of the FISA law was extended back in 2011.

We also know that it isn't necessary for NSA programs "to search the whole database" and that the Main Core will assemble suspicious words whether a human person searches or not.  This is also why the Occupy Wall Street protestors literally came under the gun.  Finally, even one of the original authors of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, insisted he never intended it to go as far as it has, and as Snowden revealed.  As he was quoted in a UK Guardian piece two months ago"

 "Oversight only works when the agency that oversight is directed at tells the truth, and having Mr Clapper say he gave the least untruthful answer should, in my opinion, have resulted in a firing and a prosecution,"

Sensenbrenner was referring to NSA honcho James Clapper lying before a Senate hearing  months earlier, when asked if the NSA did mass surveillance. So if Clapper was lying, it is obvious that Samuelson must be too by his specious defense of the NSA - and that those poor little souls aren't doing anything beyond the limits of Sec. 215 at all.  Oh no, so just rest your little heads! All is well!

Is Samuelson calling Sensenbrenner a liar?  If the original author of the Patriot Act believes the NSA overstepped the bounds of the law who the fuck is Samuelson to claim anything different?

Oh wait, he's a Neoliberal hack!

Next time you see anything from Robert Samuelson and wonder if it has some veracity, consider the source. Would you drink water from a sewer ditch? Of course not, so why take anything from Samuelson as useful information you can trust?

See also (from someone you can trust):


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