Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let Us Reason Together -- Year End Edition (1)

This has been quite an exciting year, hasn't it?

Nothing quite like it has come down the pike in quite a long time, and how all the various elements fit together, providing they do, is yet to be seen.

The highest profile "news" story was of course the Summer Splash of the Snowden Thing. Pssst: The NSA is spying on you..." Yes, it is. Well, maybe not on you personally, but then again, maybe yes, on you.  Personally.

We already knew that practically anything we did on the Internet was an open book to spooks and marketers, we've known it for years. Sometimes we've even made use of that knowledge to freak out both the spooks and the marketeers, sometimes with hilarious results. So it was passing strange, in my book, that the Summer Story of the Century became such a cause célèbre throughout the latter half of the year. Of course, the drama of it all, the cat-and-mouse, the jajaja, the personalities of the players, and the government response all made for an excellent narrative, and that's what media sells these days, so it will probably continue for quite a little while to come.

The entry of "Pierre" Omidyar into the fray, by setting up a high profile media shop specifically for Greenwald's continued... erm... pleasure ... added a whole other layer to the frolic and frenzy. (I should note that I use "Pierre" in air quotes because of a wonderful interview (the interview has been reclassified "unlisted," so sharing is discouraged) Alexa O'Brien did with Stanley Cohen regarding the PayPal 14, who plead out on really nasty charges brought by "Pierre's" PayPal against them for interfering with their work product.  Or something. Cohen uses air quotes throughout when mentioning "Pierre" and given the fact that the man himself doesn't have much of a public persona or profile, it seems appropriate to follow in the tradition...)

This media firestorm (which I indelicately called a "Summer Shark and Missing White Boy Story" throughout its summertime incarnation) led to a rather remarkable Study Group and Report by insiders commissioned by the White House and released the day after the President invited the highest ranks of the Silicon Valley nobility to meet with him and reason together on what should be done now with regard to the Surveillance/Security State under which we are all privileged to live. Praise Be and Bow Down.

After reading the Report, I came to the conclusion that much of it had been pre-prepared and that the upshot of it all is to move the discomforting aspects of mass surveillance out of the purview of the NSA and put them into other cubby-holes where they can be better monitored or at least left to fester. Or something . 

Whatever the case, there is no indication whatsoever that any of the powers usurped by the Surveillance/Security State will be curtailed let alone abolished. 

Now it should be noted that in all the firestorm and frenzy over the Snowden Thing, there has never been even a hint of interest by the principals, Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, et al, of loosening the grip of the Surveillance/Security State on the masses. Hardly. All they EVER wanted, they have said over and over, was an "informed debate" over the issue of mass surveillance, and having now had that debate, Snowden now asserts his goal has been accomplished. 

All righty then.

That was quick and efficient, wasn't it? Don't you feel better? I sure do. /s


"One Nation, Under Surveillance...." ♫That's America to Meeeeeee....

Surveillance of the whole population is not going away, no matter what; who controls it and what is done with the data will be adjusted to better comport with the interests and desires of the SV nobility. You -- and I -- will have nothing substantive to say about it. Have a nice day. Terms and conditions apply.

Assuming for the moment that I am correct and the Surveillance/Security State will not be compromised or go away in our lifetimes, but that it will be reconfigured for the comfort and convenience of Our Betters -- as all things always are -- how would one prefer to be surveilled? Would you prefer surveillance conducted by and for the government or by and for corporate interests?

That's the choice, the only real choice, we're being offered.

Myself, I don't much care for either alternative, but as in the case of elections, we don't really have an option, and unlike elections, we can't really opt out -- without completely altering one's lifestyle and location, and essentially disappearing. Well, that may be the option many choose in the not too distant future, but so far, we're not quite there yet.

The upshot of the Snowden Thing, it seems to me, is that in the near-term surveillance of the Rabble will be undertaken by and on behalf of corporate interests (and let's not forget that "Pierre's" eBay and PayPal are huge and global players in this endeavor) with ever greater restrictions put in place on government access to this data. Basically, the idea will be that the private sector will track and compile data on everyone (as they do now) and that only when the private sector interests suspect evildoing by an individual will their data be turned over to government for pursuit and prosecution. This is pretty much the current eBay/PayPal model as it is, though according to Mark Ames, eBay/PayPal is quite amenable to turning over user data when governments suspect the evildoing by users. It's all very merry. And according to some eBay/PayPal users, part of the business model for these outfits is routine closure of accounts and theft of assets. Oh my! Could it be? Apparently it is, but my accounts with PayPal have long been empty, so I wouldn't exactly know.

Now I say that "no surveillance" is the correct approach, at least as an interim measure, but my Betters tell me that is not on the table for consideration. The only thing we get to choose from is whether the dominant party in the Surveillance/Security State shall be the "government" or corporate interests. With the intent of diminishing "government" participation to the extent possible, to be involved only at the beck and occasional call of the corporate sector.

As handmaidens to corporations, we already know how useless to the People our governments have become. There is no sign at all that this will change, and there is no sign at all that either Snowden, Greenwald, or "Pierre" have any interest in changing it. If anything, the signs are they wish to ensure the continued diminution of "government" in the face of corporate power. 

So.... what do we do about it?

That question will have to wait for the New Year for deeper consideration...


  1. Che,

    Washingtonsblog, a website I read almost every day, has a post up this morning with info (which has been available for some time, but ignored, of course - washingtonsblog has written about it before) about one NSA/Pentagon program that would utilize all the data collection being carried out and cram it all into one super program which would be a bit like a "pre-thought" dissident prevention program.

    I have read about this thing before, but was struck particularly by the PS that washingstonblog stuck at the end of the article:

    "Postscript:  If we’re right, we urge that these documents be pushed towards the front of the release queue by the journalists holding the documents leaked by Snowden … as they would be central to the NSA’s true plans and visions.
    We would also urge the release of any documents regarding NSA’s involvement – if any - in financial manipulation or  false flags to be published quickly, as these would be vital for our information and understanding as a free people."


    I'm not sure, since they didn't comment further, whether or not they realize how unacceptable and fucking pathetic it is that we have gone from not knowing what exactly the NSA, et al, were doing with our tax money to having to beg the couple of people who have the info to release it to us.


    1. Teri, Happy New Year, and thanks for the link.

      I haven't checked Washingtonsblog for a while, so that's good information.

      I wonder where or how the writer comes upon what s/he believes the docs contain? I'm sure there's been plenty of chatter among the political class about just what's in these docs but isn't it something that the NSA keeps saying they don't know what docs he took. And the number keeps growing, now into the millions. If true, it shows how remarkably vulnerable the NSA's vaunted "security" really is. If a supposedly low-rank contractor could so easily pull off the Hack of the Century, just think who else might be in an even better position to purloin and use other data out of their vast hoard.

      Just what is done with the information hoovered up by this and other agencies is largely a matter of speculation, but from the indications in The Report, it isn't used just for "terrorism" investigations, far, far from it. No, there are indications that it can be and has been used to manipulate financial accounts and markets (on whose behalf?), and for any number of false-flag or black ops. Jeebus.

      As for suppressing dissent -- in this country at any rate -- that seems to be the responsibility of the FBI and local popo, with, of course, the cooperation of the higher reaches of the "intelligence" community when need be. How dissent is manipulated and managed elsewhere is another issue altogether. Books will be written...

      The critical notion I keep running into is that Snowden and Greenwald are using the hoard as bargaining chips for their own -- shall we say -- well-being. Throughout their commentary on why they don't release/publish more and faster, they constantly infer that there are "agreements" and "restrictions" on what is published, how and where, and most especially how much is published. They suggest that unless they do it the way they are doing it, they will be in far greater legal jeopardy vis a vis the US government, because they will be in violation of agreements (laws, what laws?) which to me doesn't make any sense at all.

      Snowden went so far as to claim that "the US Government" is preventing him from speaking from Russia or assisting other governments in learning about the surveillance they are under.

      I've asked "by what authority does the US Government control Snowden's actions in Russia?" The response? "Because Putin. That's why." Uhhhhh.... So Putin is on Washington's payroll? Right.... Right? Wait...

      There's something we aren't privy to going on, and whatever it is, it is actively preventing us from knowing what is in the sticky hands of the NSA and other parts of the surveillance apparat. Neither Snowden nor Greenwald -- nor any of the others who have the docs -- wants us to know, either.

      And we are to sit down and shut up about it.