Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the NSA, Spying, and Turnkey Totalitarianism: there are bad guys and sometimes they are, our own … by gimleteye

The key observation in Sunday's investigative report on the NSA and spying comes at the very end. Former senior NSA official William E. Binney, now an outspoken critic, says "… without new leadership, new laws and top-to-bottom reform, the agency will represent a threat of "turnkey totalitarianism” — the capability to turn its awesome power, now directed mainly against other countries, on the American public. “I think it’s already starting to happen,” he said. "That’s what we have to stop."

"I think it is already starting to happen … "

"No Morsel Too Minuscule For All Consuming National Security Agency". is must reading.

Given the volume of intelligence agency surveillance, more than $10 billion annually according to the Times, what chance is there to keep a secret? One million Americans have top security clearances. And at what cost to individual liberty, to empower government intelligence agencies to stop each and every leak and whistle blower?

The liability to democracy is unlimited. When there is unlimited liability, government is obligated to do what is necessary to contain it.

One way to start would be to recognize Edward Snowdon as Time Magazine's Man of the Year. Of course that is not a government function, but it would set the record straight on the best interests of American citizens in this age of unlimited watchfulness.

The gut reflex by the White House and Congress to blame Snowdon for degrading US intelligence capabilities and foreign policy is beside the point. But that's exactly what a timid Congress and White House are focusing on: what is beside the point.

What needs to happen to redress the clear threats to individual liberty?

Make abuse of intelligence data -- including the tampering of computerized election ballot gathering -- a capital offense by hanging in public.

Sometimes it is necessary to turn back the clock.


Gimleteye said...

From UK Guardian, Nov. 7:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a "full and frank public debate" over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.

As the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed particular outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had weakened online security by cracking much of the online encryption on which hundreds of millions of users rely to guard data privacy.

He said the agencies' decision to break the encryption software was appalling and foolish, as it directly contradicted efforts of the US and UK governments to fight cybercrime and cyberwarfare, which they have identified as a national security priority. Berners-Lee also said it was a betrayal of the technology industry.

In contrast to several senior British politicians – including the prime minister, David Cameron – who have called for the Guardian to be investigated over reporting of the Snowden leaks, Berners-Lee sees the news organisation and Snowden as having acted in the public interest...

Anonymous said...

Many of us don't see him as acting in the public interest. In many circles he is viewed as a traitor. He does not know enough to determine what is in the public's interest. He doesnot have a complete picture nor knowledge of how to process the information he has. One take away from this whole mess is that some jobs should never be privatized, they should only be for enlisted persons, or governmental employees. The whole system has to be reconfigured.