Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Governments Run Amok: the USA's NSA & the UK's GCHQ

Glenn Greenwald & Laura Poitras (award-winning journalists), Jeremy Scahill (producer of Dirty Wars, an Oscar-nominated documentary), and other top-notch journalists recently launched First Look Media.  Their initial digital News Magazine, The Intercept, today ran a story of bombshell proportions.  It will be interesting to see if any of the Corporate Media---ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, & Fox News---cover this revelation...and if so, how.

Here's the link:  https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/02/18/snowden-docs-reveal-covert-surveillance-and-pressure-tactics-aimed-at-wikileaks-and-its-supporters/ ...or, just go to  https://firstlook.org/theintercept/ and click on the lead story.  [FAIR WARNING:  I'm guessing there's about a 99% probability that if you go to the First Look website, you automatically will be surveilled  (without a warrant) by at least the NSA and possibly by the UK's GCHQ as well.  You'll see why I say that in a few moments.  GCHQ is the Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's top spy agency.]

The authors of the article are Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher.  [Greenwald is living in self-imposed exile in Brazil because he's being investigated by the UK as a terrorist suspect...simply for being a journalist.  He provided Snowden-documents which were published by The Guardian in the UK.  He's a U.S. citizen, but is wary of returning here because of our Fed Govt's close ties to the UK's GCHQ.]  Without trying to steal any of Greenwald's or Gallagher's thunder, I'll list just a few of the article's key points below.

1.  The NSA and GCHQ have targeted  both Assange and the WikiLeaks website (as well as other activist groups) with high priority surveillance (without a proper warrant) for quite some time.  Not only that, but WikiLeaks supporters have been targeted with "tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution".

2.  The GCHQ monitored VISITORS to Wikileaks.org in 2011; it's unclear if that surveillance program, codenamed "ANTICRISIS GIRL", is still in operation.  The visitors' IP addresses were recorded & stored.  That means there's a very high probability that if you visited the site in 2011 (& possibly beyond that date), you're on a list of "suspects".  [Of course, you should take some pride in being a suspect in the files of any Outlaw Government.  Constitutions are violated on an almost daily basis by those governments, hence my designation of "outlaw".]

3.  From 2008 to 2012 (at least), the U.S. intelligence community maintained a file called the "Manhunting Timeline" which detailed efforts of our Gov't & its allies to locate and prosecute or kill individuals who were suspected of being terrorists, drug traffickers, etc.  In 2010, Julian Assange was added to the Timeline and our allies in the Afghan War were encouraged to file charges against him for publishing documents related to that war.  [Gov't wrongdoings were exposed, and despite earlier claims, the Gov't later admitted that they could cite no death that resulted from the release of those documents.]

There's much more; read the entire article at firstlook.org/theintercept.  This whole business is very similar to our Govt's COINTELPRO program launched against the Black Power Movement back when.  COINTELPRO, it was later revealed, was rife with wrongdoing and unconstitutional activity by the FBI.

Perhaps some in my country don't realize that sites such as WikiLeaks and The Intercept are non-corporate, digital news magazines.  People like Greenwald and Assange are journalists.  One should ask:  why are they denigrated, persecuted, & possibly prosecuted in the future for publishing exactly the same type of material that sometimes is published by The Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post?  The answer is clear to me:  those corporate entities are part of the oligarchical Establishment...they get a pass, a "get out of jail free" card.  The Oligarchy considers them Institutions, not Insurrectionists (see recent previous posts on this Blog).  They can be used and manipulated.

Perhaps some people everywhere don't see the danger in governments gathering & storing the phone numbers you call, or the websites you visit, or the things you buy with a credit card, or the destinations of your emails, or who knows what else.  Perhaps it isn't clear how one becomes a "terrorist suspect", or a "part of a human network of a rogue organization" (another NSA term), or a "malicious foreign actor" (another NSA term), or what the result of all that may be.  I believe it's abundantly clear...and we all should be very concerned.  I know one person who is:  Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a legal adviser to Julian Assange.

It's obvious from the documents revealed by Assange, Greenwald, Poitras, Gallagher, Scahill, Snowden, Manning, and others that segments of our Gov't (and the UK's Gov't) are running amok.  They are violating our Natural Rights.  The excuse of the National Security State, that it's for "our own good", does not suffice.  Of course measures must be taken by governments to protect their citizens...but monitoring everyone without probable cause and then lying about it should never be tolerated in a free society.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he didn't immediately start hauling Jews off to concentration camps and killing them.  They lost their freedoms little by little, over years.  Jefferson once said that dissent was the highest form of patriotism.  I fear that in this country (and others) dissidents, especially independent journalists, are the new Jews.  They won't be hauled off to concentration camps, but they will be (and are being) smeared, denigrated, criminalized, and (in some, or perhaps many cases) imprisoned.  It already has started...all in the name of "security".  Meanwhile, USA hegemony continues throughout the world...not making us safer, but rather making us more and more enemies...while transnational corporations, who abhor competition, get richer and richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Partly just my opinion.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Elites, Control of the Masses, and the "Crisis" of Democracy

Even a cursory examination of History tells us that since at least the 1700s, after every major war or other significant, traumatic national event, the elites of "democratic" countries have perceived what they believe to be a "crisis of democracy".  For example, in 1975 the Trilateral Commission (TC for brevity) issued a book-length report on the governability of democracies titled, The Crisis of Democracy, by S. Huntington, et.al.  [The TC is a think tank founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the latter being the author of, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (1998).  It's named "trilateral" because it supposedly represents the elites of North America, Western Europe, and Japan.]

Huntington expressed the following view, one held by so-called "Liberal Democrats", a view that differed very little (if at all) from that of the so-called "Right Wing".  The elites of both political persuasions, after the Vietnam War, believed that in the USA there was an "excess of democracy" which threatened the Establishment.  By that, they meant: large groups of people, normally passive, obedient, and apathetic, began to enter the political arena and essentially demand egalitarianism.  Further, and perhaps a bigger threat, value (truth, justice, equality, etc.)-oriented intellectuals were challenging the technocratic, policy-oriented, institutionalist intellectuals of the Establishment.  That was the "crisis of democracy".  From the elites' point of view, it had to be dealt with in a thorough and systematic way.

 It was believed that the "excesses of democracy" must be mitigated by returning the public to its proper state of obedience and apathy, and driving them from meaningful and full participation in the political process.  That best could be accomplished by further refining the control of the public (and their ideas) via Edward Bernays style propaganda---molding the public mind---and by making institutions even more difficult to penetrate.  As an example of difficult penetration, to get a third political party on the ballot in all fifty states is a complex, convoluted, frustrating, and virtually impossible task because of ballot-access laws concocted by both Democrats and Republicans.  Another example--- probably 90+% of political candidates are chosen, groomed, and financed by the Oligarchy; the rest largely are ignored.  A broader, different example--- today most all major institutions, public or private, are practically impossible to penetrate when trying to get a straight answer about any perceived problem or injustice.  "That's our policy" usually is the reply, as if that's a sufficient answer.

The elites' use of the Corporate Media (the Institutionalist Press) was key to further molding the public mind.  As a result, today ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News, as well as the major newspapers and news magazines, all gush with the oligarchical line---a specialized Class knows what's best for all of us...in social matters, in politics, in government, in medicine and physical health, in economics, in finance, in national defense, in education, or in anything else you can name.  The Corporate Media don't all agree with each other on insignificant matters (e.g., should "God" be printed on our coinage), but they all promote the idea that the Oligarchy should manage and control things.  They all promote the idea that the State-Corporate Complex is the best possible system.

The rise of the Independent Media (thought of as "insurrectionist" and "dangerous" by the elites) has resulted in a serious challenge to the Oligarchy.  Consequently, there is a concerted effort to demonize, discredit, and destroy the Independents.  Journalists are being criminalized (e.g., Glenn Greenwald), jailed, or in a few places around the world, tortured and then "disappeared".  The First Amendment in this country is being compromised by the National Security State.  Fear has long been a tool of the Oligarchy...there's always a boogie-man from which we need to be protected, and to be protected means (according to the Oligarchy) that we must give up some of our Natural Rights.  Apparently exposing government wrongdoing is one of those Rights that must be given up.  [NOTE: some of those boogie-men are genuine threats, but most are not.  The biggest boogie-man is the State-Corporate Complex...and it's the biggest genuine threat.]

It's important to recognize (I think/hope most people do) that the definition of democracy used by elites is not the same as the one commonly accepted around the globe.  Democracy applied by elites is a top-down process, not bottom-up.  As to constitutional republics, forget it...there are none left in the world, that is, none that are legitimate or genuine.  That includes the United States.

Around the world today, especially in developed countries, Oligarchies are being seriously challenged by the so-called "crisis in democracy".  People are fed up with oligarchical control.  As a result, elites have increased the propaganda, or the Information War.  The effort to control the masses...mold the public mind...has never been greater.  One consequence is that the internet, the greatest democratizing force on Earth, is being attacked with propaganda and efforts to restrict it as never before.  If we are to peacefully overcome the Oligarchy, the internet must remain free and unfettered.  [I realize it's not unfettered in all countries.]  The State-Corporate Complex is doing everything possible to make us believe that the net should be censored because it is sometimes a tool of various boogie-men.  Resist that propaganda.  Take a page from the people of Turkey.

[NOTE:  A significant portion of this essay is courtesy of a lecture by the brilliant political analyst, Noam Chomsky...a Professor Emeritus of M.I.T., and a man demonized by both the so-called Left and the so-called Right.  That, by itself, tells me we should pay attention to what he says. :)]

Partly just my opinion.  Happy Trails