• Tag Archives Snowden
  • Earth to Bill Maher: Edward Snowden Isn’t the Crazy One

    For Maher and too many likeminded people, anyone who doesn’t view the government as a benevolent force for good is a tinfoil-hat-wearing kook who believes all civilian life is the target of a massive conspiracy involving the government, secret societies, aliens, etc. Thus Maher’s retort, “Everyone in the government isn’t out to get you.”

    That’s what’s known as “framing the debate.” You’re either with Bill Maher and President Obama or you’re with the kooks. You may also be somewhere in the middle, where Maher apparently places Snowden. It completely ignores the many other perspectives one might have, including that of most libertarians.

    Libertarians don’t believe that the people who work for the government are evil. It’s the institution of government itself, a monopoly on the use of force that can martial the resources of the entire nation. That kind of power is dangerous even when used by good people with good intentions.

    This isn’t some new age idea cooked up by pot-smoking libertarians in the 1970s. It’s a founding American principle and the reason for the entire Bill of Rights. It was summed up best by Thomas Paine in the pamphlet credited with convincing most American colonists to support independence from Great Britain:

    “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”

    Until not so long ago, Americans believed that. When it came to protecting the privacy of individuals against the surveillance powers of the government, it was liberals who led the way during both the Nixon and Bush administrations.

    The government developed these surveillance programs during the Cold War, when the Soviet empire was the largest perceived threat to national security. Watergate proved that presidents can and will use those powers for other purposes, even political purposes. We now know that it wasn’t crazy to accuse the Nixon administration of using surveillance powers for other purposes. It spied on both political rivals and private citizens. It may have even tapped John Lennon’s phone.

    No one said progressives were crazy when they accused the Bush administration of spying on anti-war groups, either. That’s because they weren’t.

    Maher says Snowden is crazy to say, “They could use this system to go back in time to scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with.”

    What’s crazy about that? The government admits that it is collecting what it calls metadata on every phone call made and every e-mail sent in the United States. Does Bill Maher have people he calls “friends” that he has never once spoken to on the phone or conversed with by e-mail? Has he made any significant decisions in his life that he has never discussed on the phone or in an e-mail?

    If so, it begs the questions: Why? Was he afraid someone was listening?

    Most leaders who have abused powers believed they were doing the right thing. They weren’t evil people participating in a vast conspiracy. They were good people pursuing what they believed were just ends. The Bush administration in particular cited the very same reasons for needing expanded surveillance power as Obama does now: the risk of terrorism.

    The problem was their means. When your vehicle for positive change is at best a necessary evil, the slope is slippery no matter where you stand.

    Government power is like a hammer. It can’t be used to perform surgery. When the hammer swings, it destroys everything in its path. The Constitution and Bill of Rights attempt to keep the head small, lest it destroy our lives and liberties along with the evil it purports to fight.

    As Greenwald pointed out during the interview, government collection of all electronic communications and warrants issued by secret courts with no accountability to the public used to be the stuff of 1950s science fiction novels. More accurately, it was a 1949 novel that warned against precisely this kind of government behavior. The government was just protecting its citizens against terrorism and foreign agents in Orwell’s dystopian 1984, too.

    Full article: http://www.huffingto … _6714_b_4636867.html

  • Snowden Says NSA Targets Journalists Critical of Government

    During the interview, Snowden said that Laura is one of “the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism.”

    “After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” he said. “From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy,” he continued. “But what benefitted the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period. Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics.”

    Snowden contends that in doing so, Poitras became “targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures.”

    According to Snowden, the agency tracked her e-mails and placed her on countless travel watch lists, causing her to have to repeatedly undergo airport interrogations.

    via Snowden Says NSA Targets Journalists Critical of Government

  • Ron Paul blasts establishment in Ron Paul Channel debut

    Yesterday, Ron Paul launched his new internet media outlet, the Ron Paul Channel. The fireworks began during the opening tease, with Paul claiming that President Obama “perpetuates terror while he claims to prevent it” through his use of drone strikes to combat terrorism.

    Never shy of controversy, the former Congressman and Republican presidential candidate also blasted the war on drugs and the Federal Reserve.

    That was all in the first minute.

    The highlight of the show was even more controversial: Paul’s exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald has published the series of stories on Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the domestic surveillance activities of the NSA.

    Paul was openly supportive of Greenwald and Snowden, saying “I think it’s just been wonderful that we’re getting to the bottom of this” and calling Greenwald “the most important journalist in the world today.”

    Greenwald indicated that more stories are coming, some refuting official responses to the initial disclosures reported already.

    “Just today, we published a brand new article, just about an hour and a half ago, proving that President Obama was not telling the truth when he said that the NSA isn’t listening to the telephone calls or reading the e-mails of American citizens without warrants, because we published a document internally at the NSA that shows that they have a loophole that they think they’ve created, that allows them, when they collect foreign traffic, to search through any e-mails and telephone calls of Americans that are swept up in that data gathering, without a warrant of any kind,” said Greenwald.

    Full article: http://communities.w … on-paul-channel-deb/