Monday, July 01, 2013

More surveillance stories

Here a couple of quick takes on the US dragnet surveillance story.

Greg Miller, Misinformation on classified NSA programs includes statements by senior U.S. officials Washington Post 06/30/2013; see commentary by Digby, Whose interests are the secrets serving? Hullabaloo 07/01/2013, Miller's article addresses one point of interpretation in the early Glenn Greenwald reporting on Edward Snowden's revelations, "News accounts of the NSA programs have also contained inaccuracies, in some cases because of the source materials. Classified NSA slides that were published by The Post indicated that the NSA was able to tap directly into the servers of Google, Microsoft, Apple and other technology companies. The companies denied that they allowed direct access to their equipment, although they did not dispute that they cooperated with the NSA."

Rick Perlstein made much of that distinction in his dispute with Greenwald over the story. See Glenn Greenwald's 'Epic Botch'? The Nation 06/13/2013 and subsequent posts in Rick's Nation blog. Perlstein relies heavily in his criticism on the arguments of Karl Fogel, which he elaborates in Epic botch of the PRISM story 06/11/2013 and further posts on that blog.

But it has always sounded to me like a distinction without much of a difference.

Ludwig Greven, Merkel muss den USA jetzt drohen Zeit Online 01.07.2013 applauds the idea of the EU threatening the US over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to get them to back off the current level of, uh, friendly espionage they the Obama Administration conducting against our EU and NATO (supposed) friends and partners.

Barrett Brown holds forth on The cyber-intelligence complex and its useful idiots Guardian 07/01/2013:

Summing up the position of those who worry less over secret government powers than they do over the whistleblowers who reveal such things, we have New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who argues that we can trust small cadres of unaccountable spies with broad powers over our communications. We must all wish Friedman luck with this prediction. Other proclamations of his – including that Vladimir Putin would bring transparency and liberal democracy to Russia, and that the Chinese regime would not seek to limit its citizens' free access to the internet – have not aged especially well.

An unkind person might dismiss Friedman as the incompetent harbinger of a dying republic. Being polite, I will merely suggest that Friedman's faith in government is as misplaced as faith in the just and benevolent God that we know not to exist – Friedman having been the winner of several of the world's most-coveted Pulitzer Prizes.
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