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FOURTH TURNING: THE PEOPLE vs BIG BROTHER « The Burning Platform

FOURTH TURNING: THE PEOPLE vs BIG BROTHER « The Burning Platform.

 

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

 

 

 

“In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

 

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

 

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. 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 over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.” – Frank Church on Meet the Press regarding the NSA – 1975

 

Ever since Edward Snowden burst onto the worldwide stage in June 2013, I’ve been wondering how he fits into the fabric of this ongoing Fourth Turning. This period of Crisis that arrives like clockwork, 60 to 70 years after the end of the previous Fourth Turning (Civil War – 66 years after American Revolution, Great Depression/World War II – 64 years after Civil War, Global Financial Crisis – 62 years after World War II), arrived in September 2008 with the Federal Reserve created collapse of the global financial system. We are now five and a half years into this Fourth Turning, with its climax not likely until the late-2020’s. At this point in previous Fourth Turnings a regeneracy had unified sides in their cause and a grey champion or champions (Ben Franklin/Samuel Adams, Lincoln/Davis, FDR) had stepped forward to lead. Thus far, no one from the Prophet generation has been able to unify the nation and create a sense of common civic purpose. Societal trust continues to implode, as faith in political, financial, corporate, and religious institutions spirals downward. There is no sign of a unifying regeneracy on the horizon.

 

The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.

 

In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

 

Debt

 

The core crisis element of debt is far worse than it was at the outset of this Crisis in September 2008. The National Debt has risen from $9.7 trillion to $17.5 trillion, an 80% increase in five and half years. It took 215 years for the country to accumulate as much debt as it has accumulated since the start of this Crisis. We continue to add $2.8 billion a day to the National debt, and the president declares it is time for this austerity to end. The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal government for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions and now Obamacare exceeds $200 trillion and is mathematically impossible to honor. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Margin debt is at record levels, as faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to levitate the stock market borders on delusional. Consumer debt has reached new heights, as the government doles out subprime auto loans to deadbeats and subprime student loans to future University of Phoenix Einsteins. Global debt has surged by 40% since 2008 to over $100 trillion, as central bankers have attempted to cure a disease caused by debt with more debt.

 

All of this debt accumulation is compliments of Bernanke/Yellen and the Federal Reserve, who have produced this new debt bubble with their zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing that has driven their balance sheet from $935 billion of mostly Treasury bonds in September 2008 to $4.2 trillion of toxic mortgage garbage acquired from their owners – the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. This entire house of cards is reliant upon permanently low interest rates, the faith of foreigners in our lies, and trust in Ivy League educated economists captured by Wall Street. This debt laden house of cards sits atop hundreds of trillions of derivatives of mass destruction used by the Wall Street casinos to generate “riskless” profits. When, not if, a trigger ignites this explosive concoction of debt, the collapse will be epic and the violent phase of this Fourth Turning will commence.

 

Civic Decay

 

The core crisis element of civic decay is evident everywhere you turn. Our failed public educational system is responsible for much of the civic decay, as a highly educated critical thinking populace is our only defense against a small cabal of bankers and billionaires acquiring unwarranted influence and control over our country. Our children have been taught how to feel and to believe government propaganda. The atrocious educational system is not a mistake. It has been designed and manipulated by your owners to produce the results they desire, as explained bluntly by George Carlin.

 

 

 

 

 

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.”

 

The urban ghettos become more dangerous and uninhabitable by the day. The inner cities are crumbling under the weight of welfare spending and declining tax revenues. The very welfare policies begun fifty years ago to alleviate poverty have hopelessly enslaved the poor and ignorant in permanent squalor and destitution. The four decade old drug war has done nothing to reduce the use of drugs. It has benefited the corporate prison industry, as millions have been thrown into prison for minor drug offenses. Meanwhile, millions more have been legally addicted to drugs peddled by the corporate healthcare complex. The culture warriors and advocates of new rights for every special interest group continue their never ending battles which receive an inordinate amount of publicity from the corporate media. Class warfare is simmering and being inflamed by politicians pushing their particular agendas. Violence provoked by race and religion is growing by the day. The fault lines are visible and the imminent financial earthquake will push distress levels beyond the breaking point. Once the EBT cards stop working, all hell will break loose. Three days of panic will empty grocery store shelves and the National Guard will be called out to try and restore control.

 

Global Disorder

 

The core crisis element of global disorder is evident everywhere you turn. The false flag revolution in the Ukraine, initiated by the U.S. and EU in order to blunt Russia’s control of natural gas to Europe, has the potential to erupt into a full blown shooting war at any moment. The attempt by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian dictator in order to run a natural gas pipeline across their land into Europe was blunted by Russia. Iraq is roiled in a civil war, after the U.S. invaded, occupied and destabilized the country. After 12 years of occupation, Afghanistan is more dysfunctional and dangerous than it was before the U.S. saved them from the evil Taliban. Unrest, violent protests, and brutal measures by rulers continue in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Bahrain, Brazil, and throughout Africa. American predator drones roam the skies of the world murdering suspected terrorists. The European Union is insolvent, with Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal propped up with newly created debt. Austerity for the people and prosperity for the bankers is creating tremendous distress and tension across the continent. A global volcanic eruption is in the offing.

 

It is clear to me the American Empire is in terminal decline. Hubris, delusion, corruption, foolish disregard for future generations and endless foreign follies have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a cascading sequence of debt defaults, mass poverty, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation, depending on the actions of feckless bankers and politicians. There is no avoiding the tragic outcome brought on by decades of bad choices and a century of allowing private banking interests to control our currency. The “emergency” QE and ZIRP responses by the Federal Reserve to the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial collapse continue, even though the propaganda peddled by the Deep State tries to convince the public we have fully recovered. This grand fraud cannot go on forever. Ponzi schemes no longer work once you run out of dupes. With societal trust levels approaching all-time lows and foreign countries beginning to understand they are the dupes, another global financial crisis is a lock.

 

The Snowden Factor

 

With ten to fifteen years likely remaining in this Fourth Turning Crisis, people familiar with generational turnings can’t help but ponder what will happen next. Linear thinkers, who constitute the majority, mistakenly believe things will magically return to normal and we’ll continue our never ending forward human progress. Their ignorance of history and generational turnings that recur like the four seasons will bite them in the ass. We are being flung forward across the vast chaos of time and our existing social order will be transformed beyond recognition into something far better or far worse. The actual events over the coming decade are unknowable in advance, but the mood and reactions of the generational archetypes to these events are predictable. The actions of individuals will matter during this Fourth Turning. The majority are trapped in their propaganda induced, techno distracted stupor of willful ignorance. It will take a minority of liberty minded individuals, who honor the principles of the U.S. Constitution and are willing to sacrifice their lives, to prevail in the coming struggle.

 

Despite fog engulfing the path of future events, we know they will be propelled by debt, civic decay, and global disorder. Finding a unifying grey champion figure seems unlikely at this point. I believe the revelations by Edward Snowden have set the course for future events during this Fourth Turning. The choices of private citizens, like Snowden, Assange, and Manning, have made a difference. The choices we all make over the next ten years will make a difference. A battle for the soul of this country is underway. The Deep State is firmly ingrained, controlling the financial, political and educational systems, while using their vast wealth to perpetuate endless war, and domination of the media to manipulate the masses with propaganda and triviality. They are powerful and malevolent. They will not relinquish their supremacy and wealth willingly.

 

Snowden has revealed the evil intent of the ruling class and their willingness to trash the Constitution in their psychopathic pursuit of mammon. The mass surveillance of the entire population, locking down of an entire city in pursuit of two teenagers, military training exercises in major metropolitan areas, militarization of local police forces by DHS, crushing peaceful demonstrations with brute force, attempting to restrict and confiscate guns, molesting innocent airline passengers, executive orders utilized on a regular basis by the president, and treating all citizens like suspects has set the stage for the coming conflict. Strauss & Howe warned that history has shown armed conflict is always a major ingredient during a Fourth Turning.

 

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1997

 

It appears to me the Deep State is preparing for armed conflict with the people. Why else would they be utilizing Big Brother methods of surveillance, militarization of police forces  and Gestapo like tactics of intimidation to control the masses? This doesn’t happen in a democratic republic where private individuals are supposed to know everything done by public government servants, not vice versa. They know the cheap, easy to access energy resources are essentially depleted. They know the system they have built upon a foundation of cheap energy and cheap debt is unsustainable and will crash in the near future. They know their fiat currency scheme is failing.They know it is going to come crashing down.  

 

They know America and the world will plunge into an era of depression, violence, and war. They also know they want to retain their wealth, power and control. There is no possibility the existing establishment can be purged through the ballot box. It’s a one party Big Brother system that provides the illusion of choice to the Proles. Like it or not, the only way this country can cast off the shackles of the banking, corporate, fascist elites, and the government surveillance state is through an armed revolution. The alternative is to allow an authoritarian regime, on par with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, to rise from the ashes of our financial collapse.This is a distinct possibility, given the ignorance and helplessness of most Americans after decades of government education and propaganda.       

 

The average mentally asleep American cannot conceive of armed conflict within the borders of the U.S. War, violence and dead bodies are something they see on their 52 inch HDTVs while gobbling chicken wings and cheetos in their Barcalounger. We’ve allowed a banking cartel and their central bank puppets to warp and deform our financial system into a hideous façade, sold to the masses as free market capitalism. We’ve allowed corporate interests to capture our political system through bribery and corruption.

 

We’ve allowed the rise of a surveillance state that has stripped us of our privacy, freedom, liberty and individuality in a futile pursuit of safety and security. We’ve allowed a military industrial complex to exercise undue influence in Washington DC, leading to endless undeclared wars designed to enrich the arms makers. We’ve allowed the corporate media and the government education complex to use propaganda, misinformation and social engineering techniques to dumb down the masses and make them compliant consumers. These delusions will be shattered when our financial and economic system no longer functions. The end is approaching rapidly and very few see it coming.

 

Glory or Ruin?

 

The scenario I envision is a collapse of our debt saturated financial system, with a domino effect of corporate, personal, and governmental defaults, exacerbated by the trillions of currency, interest rate, and stock derivatives. Global stock markets will crash. Trillions in paper wealth will evaporate into thin air. The Greater Depression will gain a choke-hold around the world. Mass bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty will sweep across the land. The social safety net will tear under the weight of un-payable entitlements. Riots and unrest will breakout in urban areas. Armed citizens in rural areas will begin to assemble in small units. The police and National Guard will be unable to regain control. The military will be called on to suppress any and all resistance to the Federal government. This act of war will spur further resistance from liberty minded armed patriots. The new American Revolution will have begun. Leaders will arise in the name of freedom. Regional and local bands of fighters will use guerilla tactics to defeat a slow top heavy military dependent upon technology and vast quantities of oil. A dictatorial regime may assume power on a Federal level. A breakup of the nation into regional states is a distinct possibility.

 

With the American Empire crumbling from within, our international influence will wane. With China also in the midst of a Fourth Turning, their debt bubble will burst and social unrest will explode into civil war. Global disorder, wars, terrorism, and financial collapse will lead to a dramatic decrease in oil production, further sinking the world into depression. The tensions caused by worldwide recession will lead to the rise of authoritarian regimes and global warfare. With “advances” in technological warfare and the proliferation of nuclear warheads, this scenario has the potential to end life on earth as we know it. The modern world could be set back into the stone-age with the push of a button. There are no guarantees of a happy ending for humanity.

 

The outcome of this Fourth Turning is dependent upon the actions of a minority of critical thinking Americans who decide to act. No one can avoid the trials and tribulations that lie ahead. We will be faced with immense challenges. Courage and sacrifice will be required in large doses. Elders will need to lead and millennials will need to carry a heavy load, doing most of the dying. The very survival of our society hangs in the balance. Edward Snowden has provided an example of the sacrifice required during this Fourth Turning. How we respond and the choices we make over the next decade will determine whether this Fourth Turning will result in glory or ruin for our nation.

 

“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

 

Click these links to read the first two parts of this three part series:

 

Do No Evil Google – Censor & Snitch for the State

 

Google, China, the NSA and the Fourth Turning

The most misleading claim in Obama’s NSA speech – The Week

The most misleading claim in Obama’s NSA speech – The Week.

Details, details...
Details, details… (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
O

n Friday, President Obama outlined his proposed reforms for the National Security Agency and the nation’s spying practices, conceding that the government had indeed gone too far with its tech snooping.

“Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power,” he said. “It depends upon the law to constrain those in power.”

But before you write the obituary of the American surveillance state, let’s take a closer look at one telling reveal in the speech that strongly indicated that Obama’s changes will largely be cosmetic rather than substantive.

On the most controversial privacy issue — the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata — Obama said he was “ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata program as it currently exists, and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.” (The government has used Section 215 of the Patriot Act as a legal basis to vacuum up domestic metadata.)

The key here is the phrase “as it currently exists.” It seems Obama has no intention of dramatically curtailing the collection of metadata itself, as the practice’s most vocal critics have demanded. Rather, his changes mostly pertain to how the government can store and use the material it obtains.

Obama offered a two-part process to move away from the existing program. The first aspect of this plan involves a concrete change: The feds will only pursue phone calls up to two steps removed from those associated with terrorist organizations; they currently pursue calls up to three steps removed. Going forward, the government will be casting a narrower net.

The second part of the plan is more nebulous: Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to come up with a way to “fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address without the government holding this metadata.”

The problem here is that there are as yet no good options for ending the practice of the government “holding” metadata. Obama’s NSA review panel recommended handing that responsibility to third parties, an approach the president shot down Friday.

In other words, though Obama said he wants the government to stop holding metadata, he has no idea how to accomplish that. As we’ve seen with the president’s unfulfilled vow to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, politically fraught challenges like these can go unresolved for years.

Then there’s the problem of how Obama framed the 215 program to begin with, saying it was “important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved.” Specifically, he defended the program’s effectiveness by citing the case of 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar.

However, the effectiveness of the NSA’s metadata program in that case is highly suspect, as adetailed account from The New Yorker showed. And moreover, skeptical lawmakers, a federal judge, and independent reviews have all cast doubt on whether the program has actually stopped any terror plots; the White House’s own NSA review panel concluded that metadata “was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.”

As for privacy concerns, Obama said the system had never been “intentionally abused.” Yet a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in a once-secret opinion obtained by The Guardian, concluded the agency had engaged in “systemic over-collection” pretty much since the program’s inception.

So: Bulk metadata collection will persist, albeit in a lightly curtailed form. And though Obama wants to change how that metadata is stored and used, he has no idea how to do so, and doesn’t like the one suggestion his own review panel gave him to that end. That’s not change, believable or otherwise.

Activist Post: Obama’s NSA Reforms Speech “Embarrassing” – Julian Assange

Activist Post: Obama’s NSA Reforms Speech “Embarrassing” – Julian Assange.

Youtube

Trans-Pacific Partnership Chapter Released By WikiLeaks

Trans-Pacific Partnership Chapter Released By WikiLeaks.

trans pacific partnership

A trade agreement Canada intends to sign will have “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties,” WikiLeaks says.

The group known around the world for publishing state secrets has released a draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal being negotiated under what it calls an “unprecedented level of secrecy.” Critics say the agreement favours corporate interests over consumers.

The leaked intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement proposes sweeping reforms including to pharmaceuticals, publishers, patents, copyrights, trademarks, civil liberties and liability of internet service providers.

“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, said in a press release.

“If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Canada joined TPP negotiations along with Mexico last October. It also includes other Pacific Rim countries Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam but not China. The member countries together represent a market of 792 million people and a GDP of $27.5 trillion, or 40 per cent of the world economy.

Internet freedom organizations, including Canada’s Openmedia.ca, have criticized the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, saying proposals in the agreement would restrict innovation and force internet service providers to police copyright.

WikiLeaks says provisions in the deal would create “supranational” courts that could override member nations’ judicial systems. The courts “have no human rights safeguards,” WikiLeaks stated.

The document contains provisions as well as proposed amendments and opposition from the various countries involved. Canada, for the most part, appears to stand in the majority view on many topics and against many U.S. demands, which were often supported by Australia or Japan.

Canada appears to take a more liberal stance on many issues than its southern neighbour. It supported the objectives of the agreement, which the U.S. and Japan opposed, that include maintaining “a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property.”

“From a Canadian perspective, there is good news and bad news,” Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, wrote on his blog Wednesday morning.

“The good news is that Canada is pushing back against many U.S. demands by promoting provisions that are consistent with current Canadian law … The bad news is that the U.S. — often joined by Australia — is demanding that Canada roll back its recent copyright reform legislation with a long list of draconian proposals.”

Canada also proposed that the chapter’s provisions be compatible with other multilateral treaties including the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization, “especially with regards to measures aimed at protecting public health and protecting equal access to knowledge and food.” Mexico and the U.S. objected.

Meanwhile, the U.S and Australia added an amendment that would force each country to also sign onto 10 different international treaties by the time they enter the TPP. Canada and nine other nations opposed.

WikiLeaks says many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions in the agreement include stringent mechanisms proposed in the controversial U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Enforcement measures for policing rights proposed in the document include supranational tribunals, to which national courts would be expected to defer.

The leak of what is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the highly secretive TPP comes ahead of the next round of negotiations in Salt Lake City, Utah from Nov. 19 to 24.

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, was a proposed U.S. law that would have allowed the government to create a “blacklist” of copyright-infringing websites it could then block. Critics complained the government would be allowed to censor the internet without judicial oversight.

ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a stalled international pact that would greatly increase the power of international bodies to enforce copyright laws. Critics feared the pact would force governments to pass laws that would ban internet users from the web if they were found to be infringing copyright.

Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy: Linden MacIntyre – World – CBC News

Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy: Linden MacIntyre – World – CBC News. (source)

Edward Snowden, left, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, right, are among the world's best-known contemporary whistleblowers. (Guardian/AP, Anthony Devlin/AP, Patrick Semansky/AP)Edward Snowden, left, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, right, are among the world’s best-known contemporary whistleblowers. (Guardian/AP, Anthony Devlin/AP, Patrick Semansky/AP)

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.]

 

Canadian counterinsurgency manual reflects US-Canada “synergy” – WikiLeaks

Canadian counterinsurgency manual reflects US-Canada “synergy” – WikiLeaks.

 

How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets – NYTimes.com

How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets – NYTimes.com.

 

Julian Assange Discusses Mainstream Media, the “Wikileaks Party” and our Global Awakening | A Lightning War for Liberty

Julian Assange Discusses Mainstream Media, the “Wikileaks Party” and our Global Awakening | A Lightning War for Liberty.

 

Bradley Manning a traitor who set out to harm US, prosecutors conclude | World news | The Guardian

Bradley Manning a traitor who set out to harm US, prosecutors conclude | World news | The Guardian.

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