Germany Advises Journalists To Stop Using Google Over US Spying Concerns, May Ask Snowden To Tesity Against NSA | Zero Hedge
Germany Advises Journalists To Stop Using Google Over US Spying Concerns, May Ask Snowden To Tesity Against NSA | Zero Hedge. (source)
“The German Federation of Journalists recommends journalists to avoid until further notice the use of search engines and e-mail services from Google and Yahoo for their research and digital communication,” the union said in a statement.
It cited “scandalous” reports of interception of both companies’ web traffic by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ.
“The searches made by journalists are just as confidential as the contact details of their sources and the contents of their communication with them,” said Michael Konken, head of the union which represents about 38,000 journalists. He said there were safe alternatives for both searches and email.
And while in the US having one’s dirty laundry is almost perceived as a status symbol by a culture that encourages online exhibitionism via Facebook and other social media (so what if some bureaucrat in Virginia knows more than what is public), in Germany privacy is actually taken seriouysly.
The German government said last week it had evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored by U.S. intelligence.Government snooping is especially sensitive in Germany, which has among the strictest privacy laws in the world, since it dredges up memories of eavesdropping by the Stasi secret police in former communist East Germany.
Earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom said it wanted German companies to cooperate to shield local internet traffic from foreign intelligence services, although experts believe this could be an uphill battle.
In August, Deutsche Telekom and its partner United Internet launched an initiative dubbed “E-mail made in Germany” to protect clients’ email traffic.
And in other news, it is increasingly looking likely that none other than Ed Snowden will be called to testify against the NSA in a German court of law. Germany’s ARD reported that Snowden is willing in principal to help shed light on U.S. spying but outlined his complicated legal situation. As we noted earlier, German Greek politician Stroebele proposed possible safe conduct to Berlin, and granting Snowden a residence permit that would prevent extradition. Snowden attorney Anatoly Kutscherena earlier said he wouldn’t comment on alleged NSA spying on Angela Merkel.
Ironically, this follow news that Snowden would take a position with Russian Internet company Vkontakte, a local analogue to Facebook, to develop major website, according to his lawyer.
So if Obama was hoping that all the late summer scandals that have taken his reptuation to an all time low would at least push the NSA spying scandal away from the front page, he may need some additional fabricated and YouTube-validated false flag wars very soon.
- German journalists urged to shun Google and Yahoo – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Fugitive Snowden ‘may help Germany’ (bbc.co.uk)
Elliott’s Singer Sees More Detroit-Style Municipal Insolvencies | Zero Hedge
Elliott’s Singer Sees More Detroit-Style Municipal Insolvencies | Zero Hedge. (source)
Via Paul Singer of Elliott Management,
In the U.S., states cannot file for bankruptcy. Cities can, however, and there is a special provision in federal bankruptcy law reserved for cities. Furthermore, unlike countries, states and cities cannot print their own currency. When they overspend or overpromise, they beg for money from the federal government (or state government, in the case of cities), reduce their spending and/or default on their obligations. When the cash register is empty, it is lights out – literally. By contrast, the ability to print money allows countries to get away with long-term insolvency (at least until markets wake up and force them to restructure their obligations).
What is happening in Detroit – a combination of poor and corrupt civic leadership, shortsighted business leaders and overreaching labor unions – is interesting because it was 40 years in the making, but just months in the denouement. It turns out that Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code gives judges tremendous leeway to chop obligations quickly and severely, regardless of the expectations of pension-holders and bondholders.
We see Detroit as the “coming attraction” to a significant number of municipal insolvencies in the months and years to come. Perhaps the pain of the restructurings will improve the behavior of city governments, labor groups and businesses, and perhaps it won’t.
But there is no question that this episode is a precursor to what will happen on the federal level as national promises prove to be empty.
- Paul Singer In Q3 Letter Warns Of Growing Dangers To Economy (valuewalk.com)
- Paul Singer On Detroit, Obamacare And The Uselessness Of Computers (valuewalk.com)
- How Detroit bankruptcy could alter the key assumptions of municipal bond finance… (mostlyeconomics.wordpress.com)
- Elliott’s Paul Singer Warns “Something Is Wrong And Dangerous” (financialsurvivalnetwork.com)
- Detroit’s finances ‘shocking,’ city manager testifies (nbcnews.com)
Treasury’s deceit exposed by this ballsy government official
Treasury’s deceit exposed by this ballsy government official. (source)
October 29, 2013
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile
Do you remember the $700 billion bailout of the financial system in 2008?
It seems these days that most investors do not. People are partying like it’s 1929… as if all the issues and challenges that plagued the banking sector just a few years ago have miraculously vanished.
This thinking is absurd, and even a casual glance at the balance sheets of so many banks in the West shows objectively that the entire system is still precariously leveraged, undercapitalized, and illiquid.
In the wake of the bailout, Congress created a special position to oversee how the funds were spent. Like anything else in government, they used an unnecessarily long name followed by a catchy acronym–
Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or SIGTARP.
(The first SIGTARP was a former federal prosecutor who had previously indicted 50 leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia… just the right man to keep a watchful eye on bankers.)
SIGTARP just released its quarterly report to Congress… and it’s scatching, suggesting that “the toxic corporate culture that led up to the crisis and TARP has not sufficiently changed.”
There are some real zingers in the 518 page report, including:
- “[F]raudulent bankers. . . sought TARP bailout dollars to have taxpayers fill in the holes on their fraud-riddled books.”
- “Some bankers cultivated a culture of self dealing, criminally concealing that the bank was funding their luxury lifestyles, believing they were entitled to the finest money could buy. . .”
- “They were trusted to exercise good judgment and make sound decisions. However, they abused that trust. Many times they abused that trust for their own personal benefit.”
Moreover, the report calls into question the Treasury Department’s administration of the bailout.
For example, many banks have been delinquent in making TARP payments, or payments to one of TARP’s sub-programs.
Yet while many banks are delinquent by 1-2 quarters, according to the report, roughly 3% of the banks who received funds under the Community Development Capital Initiative are more than –two years– behind in their payments.
Yet the Treasury Department has done nothing to enforce terms on behalf of taxpayers.
Most alarmingly, though, the report throws a giant red flag on the Treasury Department’s deceit.
In 2011, the report states, 137 banks took in billions of dollars of funding from the Treasury under the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF). They then used those funds to repay their TARP loans.
In other words, they repaid taxpayer money with more taxpayer money.
But the Treasury Department still reported that TARP was being repaid, suggesting in a May 2013 press release: “Taxpayers have already earned a significant profit from TARP’s bank programs.”
Total BS, says the report.
SIGTARP writes that “Treasury should not. . . call these funds “repayments” or “recoveries”. Treasury owes taxpayers fundamental, clear, and accurate transparency and reporting on monies actually repaid.”
Something tells me this woman isn’t going to have a particularly long career in government.
And given the Obama’s administration’s track record against whistleblowers, SIGTARP had better start booking her flight to Moscow. Or better yet, marry a Brazilian.
- ‘Toxic’ corporate culture remains unchanged 5 years after U.S. financial meltdown (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Watchdog: Five Years After Wall Street Meltdown, ‘Toxic Culture of Greed and Risk’ Remains (commondreams.org)
Growing Your Investments for the Future | project chesapeake
Growing Your Investments for the Future | project chesapeake. (source)
By: Tom Chatham
When you speak of growing an investment most people automatically think of investing their money in some sort of financial scheme that increases the amount of financial units they trade in. In our case this is the dollar denominated world of crony capitalism and ponzi schemes. Anyone who gambles knows the house always wins. The house in this case is the banking system and its’ offshoot, the federal government.
People have been led to believe that they can magically get 6, 8 or 10% annual interest into perpetuity making them rich in the end. This means the amount of money in existence must increase at that rate. Some have done it but they are the exception to the rule. As with any ponzi scheme, the first in wins and everyone else loses. Money is only as good as the assets it can buy. If assets cannot expand as fast as money creation, the magical accumulation of it will ultimately buy less and less if everyone is allowed to accumulate it. In order for you to win the interest game, someone must lose.
As Chris Martenson has stated, there are limits to growth. Everything has a limit and debt creation is no different. If something grows without limits, it eventually outstrips the available resources that feed it. We are now seeing the limits of that growth evidenced by the stalled economy we have now inherited. This means the easy accumulation of money and debt that we are accustomed to will have to change. This will mean a redefining of the standard of living we will enjoy in the future. When the current ponzi scheme ends, some will win but most will lose. So, where does this leave those that are just now entering the economy and seek to build a nest egg to retire on.
The best way to build up assets is to literally grow them. The money printers can print to infinity and as they do so the value of that money will change. As I have said before, a can of ham will always be a can of ham. That means a pound of ham will always perform the same function in society regardless of the price or the amount of paper currency in circulation. That pound of ham represents a real asset. It may have a limited shelf life but it has real value.
It takes time and energy to produce that pound of ham just as it takes time and energy to produce beef, dairy products, wood, grain and any other commodity. Those commodities are limited by natural forces. It may be water, soil condition, growing area or pestilence. You can only produce so much of any commodity before you reach the upper limit of growth. The world can only produce so much grain every year so the available amount produces a cap on available supplies. This is similar to limiting the amount of currency in circulation. That means that a commodity will hold its value over time unlike a devaluing currency. In Argentina the recent currency devaluations have caused farmers to hoard their grain as a way to store their wealth until they can spend it.
For an individual that has a few acres of land, growing a commodity is a good way to build up their assets until they are needed. With a small pasture you can buy a bull calf from a dairy for as little as $35 and raise it on pasture until it is full grown. That full grown steer will now be worth $800 or more dollars if sold on the hoof. For a small investment in money and time, you will have increased your net assets by a huge amount. It is not that much more difficult to care for 5 calves than one which allows you to leverage your resources and compound your gains.
If you are someone that likes to grow things, you could start with a handful of heritage grain seeds and compound that small holding into a whole field of grain in a few years. If you have limited room for growing grains you may be able to grow just a few heritage seeds that thrive in your area and break the harvest into small packets of seeds to sell. Doing so can yield hundreds of dollars per bushel in some cases.
By growing your own seed and increasing the plantings, you will ultimately increase your net worth just as if you were earning interest in a bank only you will have complete control over the asset. For someone that uses sustainable growing techniques and maintains their own seed stocks and breeder stocks, which is the way our great grandparents accumulated wealth, it will be one of the few ways to accumulate wealth in the future outside of the manipulated systems we now have. A good woodlot with some selected woods can produce an impressive amount of wealth when sold. For someone with the ability to mill their own wood, they can get the maximum amount of wealth from their woodlot.
When you grow your assets in a financial institution, you are at the mercy of a host of unscrupulous persons that work for the house. The house will always win by eating away at your assets through taxes, fees, devaluation and outright theft as we have seen recently. When you literally grow your assets in the back yard, you are at the mercy of nature and the free market and they are much more forgiving than bankers and politicians. By doing so you carry no counterparty risk and give yourself every opportunity to prosper.
In the end you must decide what is more secure, a bunch of digits in a computer or a herd of cattle in the pasture. In the future those digits may be in limited supply and hard to come by if you do not work for the house so another more equitable way to accumulate wealth must be used by the population. By producing farm commodities that will always be in demand and storing some of that production in livestock, seeds or other elements like gold and silver, you can accumulate and preserve the wealth you need for the future.
Labour Reform Up For Debate At Tory Convention
Labour Reform Up For Debate At Tory Convention. (source)
A number of labour reform proposals on the agenda at this weekend’s Conservative party convention could be signs that the party is shifting further to the right, political observers say.
At least nine resolutions for amendments to the Conservative party’s policy book seek to crack down on the power of organized labour. The labour reform proposals are sponsored by various riding associations in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
Many call for an end to union political involvement, but one amendment seeks a more radical change to the Rand formula, a staple of Canadian labour relations that requires all employees in a unionized environment to pay union dues regardless of whether they join.
The number of proposals and the radical nature of a few of them suggest that the party is taking a cue from the American right wing, said Peter Woolstencroft, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo who focuses on the history of the Conservative party.
“In the Conservative party in the last little while there has been regard for what’s happening in the United States,” he said. “Right to work and other pieces of legislation or actions have been pointing towards cutting back on the power of unions.”
Some Conservatives, notably Ontario’s Tim Hudak and MP Pierre Poilievre, have been vocal in their support for U.S. “right-to-work” style laws since last December, when Michigan became the 24th state to make compulsory union dues illegal.
Such laws have become increasingly popular since the 2008-2009 recession as a means to lure businesses into economically depressed states but have also attracted criticism. U.S. President Barack Obama has said the title is a misnomer for laws that really mean “the right to work for less money.”
The Conservative association of Poilievre’s riding is one of the most overt in calling to end mandatory union membership. The Tory government has previously shot down suggestions the Conservatives are considering such legislation and Labour Minister Kellie Leitch declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Leitch said earlier this week that the Minister would not “speculate on the potential outcomes of the convention”.
The Perth-Wellington electoral district association in southern Ontario was the only one actually to mention right-to-work by name in its proposal. Its amendment seeks Conservative support for “right-to-work legislation to allow optional union membership including student unions.”
The amendment proposed by Poilievre’s Nepean-Carleton riding near Ottawa says that “unions should be democratic and voluntary,” that labour laws should provide workers with “protections against forced union dues for political and social causes that are unrelated to the workplace”. It also says labour laws should respect the UN Declaration on Human Rights article stating that “no one may be compelled to belong to an association.”
An equally aggressive amendment comes from the Alfred-Pellan electoral district association, whose head office in Laval is calling on the party to support a restructuring of the “legislative protection of the Rand formula so as to provide full and effective protection to the right of all workers not to associate with broad political positions they deem oppressive of their respective personal identities.”
Story continues below slideshow:
States With The Weakest Unions
The proposals are not out of the Tory blue. Issues such as right-to-work and elimination of the Rand principle have always been discussed in party circles but have not necessarily made it onto the agenda until now, Woolstencroft said.
However Woolstencroft believes that the most radical proposals are likely to be left on the convention floor.
“The bulk of the party knows that they have a PR game that they’re playing, and they don’t want to be easily castigated as anti-this or anti-that,” he said. “So what they’re going to do is move incrementally.”
In any case, resolution at the federal level would mostly be paying lip service to the elimination of mandatory union dues. Labour laws, are provincially administered and regulated outside of federally regulated businesses and federal public sector employees.
Still, the nine labour-related initiatives have already successfully passed the scrutiny of the party’s national policy committee, where national and political wings of the party debated and whittled down a list of 274 proposals. That signals that the party’s policy wonks believe the proposals are at least worth consideration.
The initiatives will be voted on during closed-door sessions. If any receives a majority of delegate votes, it could be included in the 10 policy resolutions placed on the plenary agenda. In the plenary session, the proposal can be adopted into party policy if it gets enough votes.
The Tories seems to be seizing on a moment when unions are vulnerable amid declining membership and loss of public favour, Woolstencroft said.
Canada’s two largest unions, The Canadians Auto Workers and Communication, Energy and Paper Workers Union, merged into a super-union in September, acknowledging that the labour movement needs more heft if it wants to survive. And the newly created Unifor union wasted no time in declaring its political intentions. At its founding convention, Naomi Klein spoke of ousting Prime Minister Stephen Harper and one of its first acts was to endorse NDP MP Olivia Chow for mayor of Toronto.
Perhaps it is no surprise then that a common thread among the convention proposals is preventing unions from becoming politically involved.
One proposal from Edmonton-Sherwood Park asks the party to amend its labour policy to include the belief that “the government should prevent mandatory dues collected by unions from being diverted to fund political causes unrelated to workplace needs.”
One submitted jointly by Mississauga East-Cooksville and Sudbury says that “union dues paid by members should not be donated by the union to third-party organizations without the consent of the members.”
Many proposals dealt with increasing union transparency, similar to the controversial Bill C-377 that was blocked in the Senate in June. The bill aimed to make it mandatory for unions to file annual public financial statements and has now been sent back to the House.
None of the riding associations were available to comment on their proposals.
New Democrat labour critic Alexandre Boulerice says he has noticed an anti-labour shift in the Conservative caucus, and he believes they are contemplating “right-to-work” legislation.
“The Progressive Conservatives were not anti-union at all,” he said, “But now we can feel that they want to break the backbone of the labour movement in Canada.”
Boulerice believes the Prime Minister’s office intends to whittle away at union rights. He points to Bill C-525, which was introduced in June and would make the union certification process more onerous for federal employees.
Peter Coleman, president of the National Citizens Coalition, believes the Conservatives are sensing a change in public thinking about the role of unions and are acting, through bills such as C-377, to curtail their power.
While some of the convention proposals are “just pie in the sky,” he said, they indicate that Conservatives are more willing at least to discuss anti-union moves, even if they are not likely to be adopted as party policy.
“They throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks and see what the moderate, temperate voices come up with,” he said.
“I do believe there’s a lot of work in the Conservative party at the federal level to get some of these things brought forward.”
Syrian Army Base Rocked Again By Overnight Explosions, Israel Implicated | Zero Hedge
Syrian Army Base Rocked Again By Overnight Explosions, Israel Implicated | Zero Hedge. (source)
The last time major explosions were reported near Damascus, it was in May when Israel and its air force did everything in their power to provoke the Assad regime to escalate military operations both domestically and abroad. It almost succeeded when three months later Obama nearly led a falseflag-driven “liberation” force facilitating Saudi and Qatari energy interests in the region and their pipeline ambitions below Syria. Since then Israel had been largely dormant, seething in its (and Saudi) disappointment that it was unable to play Obama like a fiddle.
The unstable detente changed again overnight, when as Haaretz reports “a large explosion was heard at a Syrian army missile base in Latakia. Eye witnesses told the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights that the explosion took place near Snobar Jableh, south of the city. It was not yet clear whether anyone was wounded in the strike.” And not surprisingly, it is once again Israel’ that was implicated in the latest regional provocation because as Haaretz adds, the “strike follows Lebanese media reports that Israeli aircraft circled above southern Lebanon.”
“The official Lebanese news agency reported that Israeli aircrafts were sighted on multiple occasions Wednesday in the south of the country. According to the report, which was based on a press statement by the Lebanese army, the airplanes entered Lebanese airspace at around 1:40 P.M. and circled over various places before leaving over the Mediterranean Sea near Tripoli and Naqoura at 5 P.M.”
A Facebook page run by Syrian rebels claimed that the strike occurred at around 7 P.M. According to the page, a missile was fired from the sea and struck the Syrian base but did not result in any casualties. Israeli sources declined to comment on the reports.
Last week, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported that Israeli fighter planes had bombed a shipment of missiles in the border area between Lebanon and Syria. The report, which according to the paper was based on sources in Jerusalem, has no confirmation from any other source.
The source told the newspaper that the missiles that were destroyed were of an advanced model and were designated for Hezbollah, as part of the strengthening of the organization’s missile system. It is not clear whether the attack was carried out on Lebanese territory or on Syrian territory.
Israel refused to comment officially on the publication in the Kuwaiti newspaper, whose reliability is questionable.
While hardly surprising if Israel is confirmed as the offending party, a far bigger question is what are next steps: because unlike before, Putin has now very officially made Syria his protectorate, even as the US protective influence over both Syria and the region in general was waned substantially in the past few months. But perhaps more surprising is the desperation with which Israel is once again trying to destabilize the region. One thing that is clear: while such provocative actions may have yielded results as recently as half a year ago, Israel will need to put far more energy into comparable actions in the future, whether they target Syria or Iran, as the public opinion’s threshold for unwarranted Israel offensive action has dropped substantially since the bundled US foreign policy escapade in Syria which was an unmitigated disaster for the US-Saudi-Qatar-Israel axis.
- Reports: Syrian air base destroyed in missile attack from sea (jpost.com)
- Reports huge blast ‘destroys Syrian air defence base’ at Latakia; Israel blamed (glblgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Huge blast destroys Syrian air defense base near Latakia (yalibnan.com)
- Large explosion reported at Syrian army missile base in Latakia (haaretz.com)
- Did Israel Just Launch A Missile Strike On A Key Syrian Air Base? (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- Huge blast ‘destroys defence base’ (dailytelegraph.com.au)
- REPORT: Explosion at Syrian air defense base (12160.info)
Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy: Linden MacIntyre – World – CBC News
Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy: Linden MacIntyre – World – CBC News. (source)
the fifth estate
Linden MacIntyre has been a co-host of CBC Television’s the fifth estate since 1990.
- 10 whistleblowers and the scandals they spurred
- Snowden case: Has Obama broken pledge to protect whistleblowers?
- Bradley Manning seeks presidential pardon for data leak
- Timeline: Edward Snowden
- Julian Assange: the man behind WikiLeaks
- NSA spying threatens to undermine U.S. foreign policy
- Database: Text of Canadian cables in WikiLeaks
- Brian Sinclair is Why We Need Medical Whistleblowers
The conscientious public servant, having agreed verbally with the reporter that the conflict of interest in his department is egregious, has privately explained how it works – and has now nervously consented to make available a document that will authenticate the story. There is a brief encounter in a busy public square. An envelope appears out of one briefcase, disappears into another. A silent whistle has been blown.
That was an actual transaction that occurred on an overcast autumn day in 1977. A crooked mayor lost his job because of it.
the fifth estate
This week on the fifth estate: “The Strange World of JulianAssange.” The controversialWikiLeaks founder gets the Hollywood treatment in the new movie ‘The Fifth Estate’. Watch CBC Television’s the fifth estate this Friday, Nov. 1, for the inside story of JulianAssange in his own words.
It’s a scenario that has played out many times. A provincial cabinet minister once handed me a devastating analysis of a hugely expensive public project. I had it for a weekend, it was about 150 pages long. Trusted friends and I laboriouslycopied the entire document on a typewriter before I gave it back – and started to report its contents.
Another leak: an associate in Ottawa drove to a residential address where, by arrangement, an envelope was recovered from a private mailbox. The document retrieved from that mailbox was instrumental in derailing a secret process to licence an agricultural drug of dubious value and demonstrated peril.
That’s the way the whistle blew in “the old days.” Now the revolution in technology has simplified the process and amplified the whistle to a degree that would have been unimaginable even 20 years ago.
‘Even the agencies of espionage are now publicly accountable for their tactics – all because a young civilian named Edward Snowden found some of their activities abusive and corrupt.’
The secret diplomatic pouch is now potentially transparent, as demonstrated by an outraged U.S. army private, Bradley/Chelsea Manning, who co-operated with Julian Assange and Wikileaks to blow the whistle on a global scale. And even the agencies of espionage are now publicly accountable for their tactics – all because a young civilian named Edward Snowden found some of their activities abusive and corrupt.
The names Assange, Manning and Snowden are associated with a transformation in the vulnerability of institutions in both the public and private realms.
Institutions gather, store and analyze vast amounts of information about individuals and other institutions. The process, even when intentions are benign, is nonetheless invasive.
The purpose of the information gathering is, in one rendering, to protect us from each other and ourselves. But it is also for the purpose of manipulation, to influence how we vote and spend and think. And so, people of a certain moral profile who have access to the information will be offended and some will risk liberty and life to let us in on what the institutions know about us.
That’s the way the world has worked since people first discovered the utility of information and the power of secrecy. In a memorable scene from the movie The Fifth Estate, a journalist opines that speeches in the British House of Commons were once so secret that people caught leaking them to the public were hanged for it. Not exactly true – but the Commons debates were conducted secretly, and people went to prison for reporting them in pamphlets. Public outrage, fired by whistleblowing, eventually put a stop to secrecy in parliament.
The modern pamphlet is a blog or tweet, the brown envelope is now a tiny thumb-drive with the information-carrying capacity of a truckload of paper documents. And from the opposing perspective, technology has also enabled institutions to delve deeply into private lives for law enforcement, commerce and the vague new project known as “public safety”.
‘The human tendency to be offended by abuse – torture in a secret prison, a lie told under oath to fool the public, squandering of public treasure – remains a vital force in conscientious people.’
Technology has changed, but human nature hasn’t and that’s a good thing. The human tendency to be offended by abuse – torture in a secret prison, a lie told under oath to fool the public, squandering of public treasure – remains a vital force in conscientious people.
And we witness their responses with sufficient frequency to remind the advocates and practitioners of secrecy that they are vulnerable, too. They’re at the mercy of basic human instincts (be they narcissistic or humanitarian), and the technology that makes their secrets more accessible and portable than at any other time in human history.
The furious response to Manning and Wikileaks and Snowden underscores the impact of the message in their actions just as it obscures a fundamental question: Why did they do what they did and for whose benefit?
There was no possibility of personal gain and almost certainly they faced the prospect of severe punishment. They have been accused of recklessness and treachery. Extremists have called for their deaths. Manning will spend decades in prison. Both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are fugitives from a prosecution that would be familiar to a Guantanamo detainee.
Maybe they were delusional. But the information inherent in the act of whistleblowing is perhaps more useful than the sordid details in the documents they leaked.
What we know shapes what we think. What we think determines our behaviour. There will always be clandestine efforts to manage what we think and thus control how we behave as consumers and as citizens. But there is also a fundamental human impulse to resist manipulation and, because secrecy is essential to manipulation and control, there will always be individuals who will rebel against it.
The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham put it strongly – but his words have been embraced in principle and often quoted by politicians and jurists while making and interpreting our laws: “In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing.”
In another essay more than 200 years ago, Bentham said, “Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government”.
Those are words that whistleblowers live by, which makes them auditors of governance and guarantors of our democracy.
[This week on the fifth estate: “The Strange World of Julian Assange.” The controversial WikiLeaks founder gets the Hollywood treatment in the new movie ‘The Fifth Estate.’ Watch CBC Television’s the fifth estate this Friday, Nov. 1, for the inside story of Julian Assange in his own words.]
- Whistleblowers should be protected, not prosecuted 30/09/13 (angrybeardyleftydude.wordpress.com)
- Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Alexa O’Brien, David Coombs: The War on Whistleblowers and Their Publishers (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
Head of Congressional Intelligence Committee: “You Can’t Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don’t KNOW Your Privacy Is Violated” | Washington’s Blog
Head of Congressional Intelligence Committee: “You Can’t Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don’t KNOW Your Privacy Is Violated” | Washington’s Blog. (source/link)
Argues Spying Okay As Long As Government Doesn’t Get Caught
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee – Mike Rogers – said yesterday in an NSA spying hearing which he led that there is no right to privacy in America.
Constitutional expert Stephen I. Vladeck – Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Scholarship at American University Washington College of Law – disagreed.
Here’s the exchange:
Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven’t had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.
Vladeck: But who would be complaining?
Rogers: Somebody who’s privacy was violated. You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.
Vladeck: I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you’re there to see it or not.
Rogers: Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law. We’re going to have this conversation… but we’re going to have wine, because that’s going to get a lot more interesting…
What Rogers is really saying is that the government has the right to spy on everyone so long as it doesn’t get caught doing so.
How’s that different from arguing that it’s okay for a thief to takes $100 from your bank account as long as you don’t notice that the money is missing? Or that it’s okay to rape a woman while she’s passed out so long as she doesn’t realize what happened?
That’s beyond ridiculous.
It flies in the face of more than 200 years of American law. In fact, experts say that the NSA spying program is wildly illegal, and is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.
- Head of Congressional Intelligence Committee: “You Can’t Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don’t KNOW Your Privacy Is Violated” (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- Jon Stewart says NSA spying is like health care: ‘If you never find that tumor in your b*ll sack, it can’t kill you’ (rawstory.com)
- Rep. Mike Rogers Angrily Defends Bathroom Spycam (popehat.com)
- CISPA and You – A Guide To Privacy (theblogpirate.wordpress.com)
Pakistan criticised over drone victim numbers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English
Pakistan criticised over drone victim numbers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)
Washington-based New America Foundation says 185 civilians killed in US drone attacks since 2008 [AP]
|The Pakistani government has been criticised for lowering civilian casualty numbers of US drone strikes, contradicting its past calculations and estimates by independent organisations.
The defence ministry said on Wednesday that only 67 of 2,227 people killed during the 317 attacks since 2008 were civilians, insisting there have been no civilian casualties since 2011.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based in London, has estimated that drones have killed at least 300 civilians in Pakistan since 2008, while the Washington-based New America Foundation puts the figure at 185.
The US rarely speaks publicly about the CIA-run drone programme in Pakistan, because it is classified. But some American officials have insisted that the strikes have killed very few civilians and that estimates from the Pakistani government and independent organisations are exaggerated.
Ben Emmerson, a UN expert investigating drone strikes, said earlier this month that the Pakistani foreign ministry told him that at least 400 civilians had been killed by the attacks in the country since they started in 2004.
“If the true figures for civilian deaths are significantly lower, then it is important that this should now be made clear, and the apparent discrepancy explained,” Emmerson said in an email to the Associated Press news agency.
The attacks, which mainly target suspected rebels near the northwestern border with Afghanistan, are widely unpopular in Pakistan, because they are violating the country’s sovereignty and killing civilians.
The Pakistani government regularly criticises the drone programme in public, even though it is known to have secretly supported at least some of the strikes in the past.
Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, pressed US President Barack Obama to end the attacks in a visit to the White House last week, but the US considers the attacks vital to its battle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban and gave no indication it was willing to abandon them.
- US drone strikes condemned in rights reports – Americas – Al Jazeera English (olduvaiblog.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan: 3 percent of drone deaths were civilians (sfgate.com)
- US drone strikes have killed 67 civilians since 2008, says Pakistan’s military (theguardian.com)