Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Latest NSA Outrage - And What Snowden Sought to Protect

Demonstrators hold placards supporting Edward Snowden

Even as another militarist (Michael Rogers) is named by Obama to head the NSA, we've learned about the latest NSA outrage: that NSA and its Brit sidekick GCHQ are grabbing up data from smart phone apps, and even games like 'Angry Birds'. Enjoy  'Angry Birds?  Then you're likely now compiled into the NSA's "Main Core" program, along with proven "enemies of the state" and others (e.g. fracking protestors, and OWS folks) deemed such.

We know that with each new generation of mobile phone technology, ever greater amounts of personal data pour onto networks where spies like those ensconced in NSA can pick it up.   According to dozens of previously undisclosed classified documents, as reported by the NY Times yesterday, among the most valuable of those unintended intelligence tools are so-called leaky apps that spew everything from users’ smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.
As The Times observes:
The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

Of course, WH tool Jay Carney denied it all, but what would you expect when the snoops probably have all sorts of stuff on him, as well the Obama WH - likely making subtle threats to undermine Obama's legacy and programs (the ACA)  if he doesn't "play ball".  Bear in mind the snoops also had JFK under the gun (literally), as they laid out an assassination program against Fidel (ZR/Rifle) which was then turned on Kennedy. As Peter Dale Scott has reported (Deep Politics Quarterly, Jan. 1994)  this was operated under the NSA and the CIA's  William Harvey with the 'Staff D' connection betrayed on the front cover of Oswald's 201 file. (This indicated a SIGINT or signals intelligence operation run in concert with the National Security Agency or NSA.)

The Times went on to note:

The eavesdroppers’ pursuit of mobile networks has been outlined in earlier reports, but the secret documents, shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica, offer far more details of their ambitions for smartphones and the apps that run on them. The efforts were part of an initiative called “the mobile surge,” according to a 2011 British document, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. One N.S.A. analyst’s enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — “Golden Nugget!” — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources, one document notes.

Can anyone believe this? And also the arrogance to outright deny it when the evidence is clear?
The Times again:
Two top-secret flow charts produced by the British agency in 2012 show incoming streams of information skimmed from smartphone traffic by the Americans and the British. The streams are divided into “traditional telephony” — metadata — and others marked “social apps,” “geo apps,” “http linking,” webmail, MMS and traffic associated with mobile ads, among others. (MMS refers to the mobile system for sending pictures and other multimedia, and http is the protocol for linking to websites.)
You want to know why the congress can't support food stamps for our millions of hungry kids, or unemployment benefits for  out of luck long term unemployed? Look no further than this nugget from the Times:
As the program accelerated, the N.S.A. nearly quadrupled its budget in a single year, to $767 million in 2007 from $204 million, according to a top-secret Canadian analysis written around the same time.
Got that? Over three fourths of a billion for these snoops. For what? Well to keep the national security state expanding! And they know millions are dumb enough to believe the transparent bilge of "protecting us from terrorists" when the real terrorists are the random mass killers that can open up on innocent kids in a school, a mall, or a movie theater. But the NSA doesn't want to face down the likes of the NRA, oh no! Nor does a cowardly congress. It's easier to confect bogeyman terrorists than to challenge the real enablers. As Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks wrote after the mass shooting in the Columbia Mall:
"We have spent billions of dollars in the fight against terrorism — the National Security Agency is maybe 10 miles from the Columbia Mall — when the real terror is right here in our midst, accounting for thousands upon thousands of premature deaths by homicide and suicide, most often impulsive acts made possible by access to guns."
 The Times went on to point out:
Smartphones almost seem to make things too easy. Functioning as phones — making calls and sending texts — and as computers — surfing the web and sending emails — they generate and also rely on data. One secret report shows that just by updating Android software, a user sent nearly 500 lines of data about the phone’s history and use onto the network.
Meanwhile, there remain millions of pretend Americans - those who don't deserve liberty because they overvalue a phony security - who will blow these revelations off and still call for Edward Snowden's head. (That he be "brought to trial" - when the format would not even allow him to call public witnesses on his behalf).  I have nothing but contempt for these Americans when my own ancestor, Conrad Brumbaugh, fought in the Revolutionary War for the liberties now being trampled under.
So what did Snowden seek to protect by his disclosures? None other than privacy! As I noted in my June 8 blog post from 2013, secure in one’s person, house, papers, effects” the Fourth amendment implies PRIVACY! These are after all MY private papers, my private effects, my house, etc. If an inherent right to privacy was a myth then by all accounts being secure in one’s person, papers, effects wouldn’t matter.  Beyond that, privacy encapsulate an affirmation of our worth as autonomous humans as opposed to being slaves and pawns of the state.
The cornerstones can be said to be:
-  Personal autonomy (the ability to make personal decisions)
- Individuality  
-  Respect
- Dignity
 -Worth as human beings
As one privacy source puts it:
Privacy allows us to make our own decisions free from coercion, to totally be oneself and potentially engage in behavior that might deviate from social norms. It allows us the time and space for self-evaluation. Informational privacy is seen as enhancing individual autonomy by allowing individuals control over who may access different parts of their personal information. It also allows people to maintain their dignity, to keep some aspect of their life or behavior to themselves simply because it would be embarrassing for other people to know about it.
Privacy also allows people to protect their assets or to avoid sharing information with others who would use it against them, such as discrimination by employers, educators, or insurers. The ability to control one’s information has value even in the absence of any shameful or embarrassing or other tangibly harmful circumstances.
Privacy is also required for developing interpersonal relationships with others. While some emphasize the need for privacy to establish intimate relationships, others take a broader view of privacy as being necessary to maintain a variety of social relationships.
By giving us the ability to control who knows what about us and who has access to us, privacy allows us to alter our behavior with different people so that we may maintain and control our various social relationships. For example, people may share different information with their boss than they would with their doctor, as appropriate with their different relationships.
Most discussions on the value of privacy focus on its importance to the individual. Privacy can be seen, however, as also having value to society as a whole. Privacy furthers the existence of a free society. Large databases, potential national identifiers and wide-scale surveillance, can be seen as threatening not only individual rights or interests but also the nature of our society. For example, preserving privacy from wide-spread surveillance can be seen as protecting not only the individual’s private sphere, but also society as a whole: privacy contributes to the maintenance of the type of society in which we want to live.
Minus privacy and its inherent defense via the 4th amendment, we thereby become like  "Winston" the pathetic character from Orwell's '1984' whose flat is riddled with two-way monitors with the image of 'Big Brother'. Winston can't even take a crap without Big Brother's beady, baleful eyes staring down at him. THINK about THAT! When he has sex Big Brother is in the room, and the first thing in the morning Winston's ordered by the Oceania Officer on the screen to do his calisthenics and if he loses tempo for an instant he must repeat them.
This is the world we effectively have now via NSA mass snoop technology, and the only reason over three fifths of my countrymen want Snowden taken to a trial is they can't see the value of what he's done. They can't see that had he not done it there'd have been NO scrutiny at all on this secretive agency which Sen. Frank Church once warned us about in frightening terms:
 "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America. And we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return"- 
To me, this makes the mock Americans who want Snowden tried no better than the good Germans of the Nazi era.  Those degenerates sided with Hitler, praised him and embraced his ideology while turning a blind eye to the multifold wrongs. The last straw was the Enabling Act (1933) which essentially obliterated the last vestiges of the Weimar Republic. These "good Germans" - state loyalists to a fault-  lost the last vestiges of their democracy from right under their miserable noses because they were too dismissive of the clear warning signs all around them. They had it nice and comfy thanks to Herr Hitler, so why rock the boat?
After our military dragged these “good Germans”  into the remnant concentration camps-  to see first hand what their Fuhrer and his minions did- they wished to hell they had rocked the boat. They were marched in and forced to look at the naked, gassed bodies stacked like cordwood until they puked.

Meanwhile, our then military leaders rounded up the remaining high profile Nazis, including Hermann Goering (see photo below) ,

 and dragged them before a Tribunal to be accountable for their actions. "Following orders" was not an acceptable defense! Under the Nuremberg laws and specifically its Principle IV,  the defendants had to have operated under a higher moral order or conscience, damned the "orders", "oaths" or any other contrived legalistic mumbo-jumbo designed to maintain silence in the face of atrocity.
If a person dismisses the NSA's latest outrages, namely the smart phone metadata seizures, or doesn't believe privacy ought to exist anymore anyway because "someone can always find out about you" then whether they know it or not they're like the good Germans. I'd even go further, and say they're no different from Martin Borman or Hermann Goering.
What would my Revolutionary War ancestor  think about these "Americans" now,  nearly 240 years after the War of Independence? He’d likely barf nonstop at the spectacle of what too many of the current crop have devolved to: arrant, ignorant, whiny, weak, sissy consumers,  who’d rather calumniate someone trying to preserve their liberties than recognize the real threat to their existence. He’d then likely crawl back into his grave shaking his head but echoing Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote:

"Those who would sacrifice liberty for a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

 Am I a civil liberties “extremist”? Damned right if that means a citizen who understands that the Constitution is not just “a piece of paper” (as Bush once called it) and that the rights inherent in the Bill of Rights are real, apply to individuals, and not mere “compromise abstractions” but rather hold the key to American identity – what truly sets us apart. And once those rights are gone, believe me they won’t be coming back!
Those quaking in their boots at Snowden's continued disclosures would do well to bear in mind the words of Bruce Schneier, a security specialist, who wrote in The New York Times last July 3rd:

"The argument that exposing these documents helps the terrorists doesn't even pass the laugh test; there's nothing here that changes anything any potential terrorist would do or not do."

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