Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Michael Grunwald Affair ... by gimleteye

"The Michael Grunwald Affair" describes the internet conflagration set by the Miami-based who tweeted the other day, to the effect that he couldn't wait to write the defense of a drone strike on Julian Assange. Michael Grunwald is a senior correspondent for Time Magazine.

The sparks that fly from Twitter accumulate a flickering bright light that offers facetiousness many chances to shine, at any given moment on any given day.

Discerning patterns through the noise can be a very useful exercise, particularly on deadly serious issuesof government spying, secrecy in the name of the war on terror, and the involvement of the public through responsible journalism.

Whatever one thinks about Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, or Bradley Manning, the troubled young man who released classified information through WikiLeaks, or Edward Snowdon or the intrepid journalists who reported their stories and information, there is no question about the public benefit of revealing the operations of government in response to organized threats of terrorism.

There is no news in the capacity of government to intrude through technologies that comfortably reside in the realms of science fiction. It's not just terrorists going back to carrier pigeons to deliver messages: local corrupt politicians are also stashing cell phones in favor of message carriers.

The prime value of recent leaks has been to focus for the first time the ire of conservative American voters -- Republicans -- on the connections between big government, the costs of fighting the "war" on terror, and spying on private citizens through data collection across gargantuan information networks.

That is a good thing, because the imposition of technologies to control people in the name of "public safety" is not, finally, a question of balancing national security against terrorism; it is a link to the single issue that Republicans simply can't come to terms with: the massive disruptions bound to occur through global warming.

Government intrusion through surveillance has organized the means to control through imposition of technologies and control is going to be necessary to manage the contraction of civilization as a result of climate change. Today's Islamist extremists are the first wave of assaults at margins of safety we take for granted in the developed world.

In this view, Julian Assange, Edward Snowdon, Michael Bradley and those to come are not the enemies of the United States nor would drone strikes against them be any cure. They do, however, call attention to who wields power, control, and for what purposes: to build fortifications for whom and at what cost to liberty.

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