Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Dance through the American Zeitgeist (In 11 Acts)

"If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive."

--Former FBI Assistant Director Thomas Fuentes

Act 1:

From Matthew Harwood's 2-5-15 article entitled "The Lone-Wolf Terror Trap:  Why the Curse Will Be Worse Than the Disease":

"The shadow of a new threat seems to be darkening the national security landscape: the lone-wolf terrorist.
"'The lone wolf is the new nightmare,' wrote Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer recently, and the conservative pundit wasn’t alone in thinking so. 'I really see [lone wolves] as being a bigger threat than al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State, or the al-Qaeda franchises,' Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis at the global intelligence and advisory firm Stratfor, told VICE News. Similarly, in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, appearing on 'Meet the Press,' Attorney General Eric Holder said, 'The thing that I think keeps me up most at night [is] this concern about the lone wolf who goes undetected.'
"You could multiply such statements many times over.  There’s only one problem with the rising crescendo of alarm about lone wolves: most of it simply isn’t true. There’s nothing new about the 'threat' and the concept is notoriously unreliable, as well as selectively used.  (These days, 'lone wolf' has largely become a stand-in for 'Islamic terrorist,' though the category itself is not bound to any specific ideological type.)  Worst of all, its recent highlighting paves the way for the heightening of abusive and counterproductive police and national security practices, including the infiltration of minority and activist communities and elaborate sting operations that ensnare the vulnerable. In addition, the categorization of such solitary individuals as terrorists supposedly driven by ideology — left or right, secular or religious — often obscures multiple other factors that may actually cause them to engage in violence.
"Like all violent crime, individual terrorism represents a genuine risk, just an exceedingly rare and minimal one.  It’s not the sort of thing that the government should be able to build whole new, intrusive surveillance programs on or use as an excuse for sending in agents to infiltrate communities. National programs now being set up to combat lone-wolf terrorism have a way of wildly exaggerating its prevalence and dangers — and in the end are only likely to exacerbate the problem. For Americans to concede more of their civil liberties in return for 'security' against lone wolves wouldn’t be a trade; it would be fraud."
To read the entirety of Harwood's article, click HERE.

Act 2:

From a 2-21-15 Washington's Blog article entitled "Worst Spying in World History--Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel--Is Occurring RIGHT NOW":

"Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a 'legend' within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.
"Binney tells Washington’s Blog:
'While the spying programs that we have heard about so far deal with the “who and what” and on occasion the “why” of what people on the planet are doing, Treasuremap is the NSA/GCHQ/etc. program to acquire and follow the movements of people (objective is to follow 4 billion folks) simultaneously in near real time. So, Treasuremap gives them the “when and where” aspects of individual lives.
'All in all, this gives the participating governments (primarily the Five Eyes countries) unrestricted knowledge of individual lives.
'Current surveillance is far beyond an Orwellian state.
'Although on a much smaller scale, we need to remember that these type of activities were some of the primary “articles of impeachment” of president Nixon.'"
To read the entirety of this article, click HERE.

Act 3:

From Andrew Curry's 1-14-15 Wired article entitled "No, the NSA Isn't Like the Stasi--And Comparing Them Is Treacherous":

"EVER SINCE EDWARD Snowden handed thousands of National Security Agency documents over to filmmaker Laura Poitras and writer Glenn Greenwald in a Hong Kong hotel room, the NSA’s mass surveillance of domestic phone calls and Internet traffic has been widely compared to the abuses of East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi.
"The communist republic may have imploded in 1989, but it has nonetheless become synonymous with a smothering, all-knowing spy apparatus.
"A year ago, President Obama himself cited East Germany as a 'cautionary tale of what could happen when vast, unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes.' He was responding to accusations that just such a vast, unchecked effort to collect data has metastasized on his watch.
"It was no coincidence that Poitras chose Leipzig, a city in the heart of the former East Germany, for the recent German debut of her documentary Citizenfour, about Snowden and the NSA. 'If the government is doing that kind of surveillance, it has a corrosive effect on democracy and society,' Poitras said after the premiere. 'People who lived through it can tell you what it was like.'

"Indeed. When it was revealed that the NSA had been listening to her cell phone calls, German chancellor Angela Merkel—who came of age in communist East Germany, under the Stasi’s watchful eye—told President Obama, 'This is just like the Stasi.' In an interview last year, NSA whistle-blower and Poitras source William Binney likened the agency to 'the Stasi on supersteroids.'
"They’re wrong. In crucial ways, the two agencies are very different. In its effort to control East Germany, the Stasi made its presence felt in every sphere of life. Its power rested not only in the information its surveillance yielded but in the fear and distrust that collection instilled. The NSA, on the other hand, operates best in the dark, its targets unaware of its existence, let alone its dragnet data-gathering. Even Poitras, when asked, acknowledged a line between the two. 'The NSA’s broad, mass collection is fundamentally different than what the Stasi did,' she said in Leipzig.
"Calling the Stasi 'secret police' is misleading. The name is an abbreviation of STAatsSIcherheit, or State Security. Founded in 1950 as the East German Communist Party’s 'sword and shield,' it never hid the fact that it was spying. By the late 1980s, more than 260,000 East Germans—1.6 percent of all adults in the country—worked for the organization, either as agents or as informants. (If the NSA employed as many analysts to spy on 320 million Americans, it would have 5 million people on the payroll.) It wanted you to constantly wonder which of your friends was an informant and, ideally, tempt or pressure you into the role of snitch too.
"At times, the scrutiny reached absurd proportions. Every apartment building and workplace had a designated informer. Spies used specially built equipment to steam open mail; a Division of Garbage Analysis was on the lookout for suspect trash. Stasi agents let the air out of targets’ bicycle tires and rearranged the pictures in their apartments in an effort to drive 'class enemies' crazy.
"Cooperation was often a prerequisite for career advancement, academic success, even a new apartment. The Stasi had the power to take your children away or keep you from getting into a university. Its visibility and ubiquity forced East Germans to make moral choices every day: Collaborate with an unjust, undemocratic system or suffer the consequences.
"The NSA is a different beast. Until Snowden’s revelations, it was one of the best-funded, most powerful agencies that most Americans had never heard of. In contrast to the sexier CIA, the NSA—founded in 1952 in part to break foreign codes—preferred invisibility."
To read the entirety of Rietman's article, click HERE.

Act 4:

From Julie Steinberg's 2-3-15 MarketWatch article "This Banker Was a Spy":

"Edwin 'Ed”'Hale Sr., a retired bank executive known locally for his sharp-elbowed approach to business, installed video surveillance on his 186-acre farm and still sleeps with a sawed-off shotgun by his bed.
"His friends, former employees and even his own daughters were shocked to learn in his recently published biography that he had ample reason to do so: The former chief executive and chairman of Bank of Baltimore says he worked covertly for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s.
"During that time, he said, he spoke regularly with a CIA handler and allowed the agency to create a fake company under his corporate umbrella, which included shipping and trucking companies he ran at the same time he led the bank. Operatives in the field used the fictitious firm as cover when traveling the world, complete with business cards and hats. Hale said he worked under 'nonofficial cover,' in which his identity was unassociated with the U.S. government."
To read the entirety of Steinberg's article, click HERE.

Act 5:

From Jay Stanley and Bennett Stein's 1-16-15 article entitled "FOIA Documents Reveal Massive DEA Program to Record American's Whereabouts with License Plate Readers":

"The Drug Enforcement Administration has initiated a massive national license plate reader program with major civil liberties concerns but disclosed very few details, according to new DEA documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act.
"The DEA is currently operating a National License Plate Recognition initiative that connects DEA license plate readers with those of other law enforcement agencies around the country. A Washington Post headline proclaimed in February 2014 that the Department of Homeland Security had cancelled its 'national license-plate tracking plan,' but all that was ended was one Immigrations and Customs Enforcement solicitation for proposals. In fact, a government-run national license plate tracking program already exists, housed within the DEA. (That’s in addition to the corporate license plate tracking database run by Vigilant Solutions, holding billions of records about our movements.) Since its inception in 2008, the DEA has provided limited information to the public on the program’s goals, capabilities and policies. Information has trickled out over the years, in testimony here or there. But far too little is still known about this program."
To read the entirety of Stanley and Stein's article, click HERE.
Act 6:
From Nathaniel Mott's 1-27-15 article entitled "The DEA Is Collecting Information About 'Millions' of Americans Without Public Oversight":
"A semi-secret surveillance program developed by the Drug Enforcement Administration is collecting location information about 'millions' of Americans through the use of a license plate-reading system to which state police departments also contribute data [...].
"The result is a national surveillance program with an unknown number of contributors offering up location data about millions of Americans; all to a database used by an untold number of police departments without any public oversight regarding their searches.
"That's a problem. Backchannel reported in December that police have used their access to license plate readers to stalk former colleagues, and IB Times revealed earlier this month that Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) used location data to smear a political rival."
To read the entirety of Mott's article, click HERE.
Act 7:
From Lenore Skenazy's 1-14-15 Reason article entitled "Child Services Still Hounding Couple Who Let Their Kids Play Outside":

"You may recall the story last month of a family threatened by the authorities for letting their kids walk outside. Here's the latest from the mom, Danielle Meitiv, who is hoping the rest of the media takes note. I hope so, too.
"Meitiv explains via email:
"Dear Reason: On Monday, a Montgomery County child protective services worker went to my children's school and interviewed them without my knowledge or consent. Why?
"Because last month we'd let them walk home from the park by themselves. It's a mile away. They are 6 and 10. We live in suburban Maryland. Let me recap the story and then tell you where we're at.
"On a Saturday afternoon in December, my husband, Alexander, gave our kids permission to walk home from the local playground. I was out of town at the time. When they'd walked about halfway, a Montgomery County Police patrol car pulled up. A 'helpful' neighbor had called 911 to report unaccompanied children walking outside. Our kids were brought home in a police cruiser.
"At the door the police officer asked to see my husband's ID, but did not explain why. When he refused, she called for backup.  
"A total of six patrol cars showed up.
"Alexander then agreed to get his ID and went to go upstairs. The officer said—in front of the kids—that if he came down with anything else, 'shots would be fired.' She proceeded to follow him upstairs, and when he said she had no right to do so without a warrant, she insisted that she did.
"Our 10 yr. old called me crying and saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. Alexander stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to children, she asked him: 'Don't you realize how dangerous the world is? Don't you watch TV?'  They took notes and left."
To read the entirety of Skenazy's article, click HERE.

Act 8:

From Pater Tenebrarum's 1-19-15 article entitled "It's Official:  If You Question Authority, You Are Mentally Ill":

"This post is about an issue that is by now a bit dated (though the topic as such certainly isn’t), but we have only just become aware of it and it seemed to us worth rescuing it from the memory hole. In late 2013, the then newest issue of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short) defined a new mental illness, the so-called 'oppositional defiant disorder' or ODD.
"As informs us, the definition of this new mental illness essentially amounts to declaring any non-conformity and questioning of authority as a form of insanity. According to the manual, ODD is defined as:

[…] an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

"In short, as Natural News put it: According to US psychiatrists, only the sheeple are sane.
"Every time a new issue of the DSM appears, the number of mental disorders grows – and this growth is exponential. A century ago there were essentially 7 disorders, 80 years ago there were 59, 50 years ago there were 130, and by 2010 there were 374 (77 of which were 'found' in just seven years)."

To read the entirety's of Tenebrarum's article, click HERE.

Act 9:
From Carole Cadwalladr's 11-9-15 Guardian article entitled "Berlin's Digital Exiles:  Where Tech Activists Go to Escape the NSA":

"Germany has some of the strongest laws in the world when it comes to surveillance and privacy. It is illegal for the foreign security service, the BND, to spy on its own citizens. But, the NSA has had bases in Germany since 1945 and there are no laws that govern its behaviour. A parliamentary inquiry is now under way, to try and establish what the BND knew – the only one of its kind in the world, post-Snowden – but when I visit Hans-Christian Ströbele, the veteran Green MP who is leading the inquiry, in his office in the Bundestag he tells me: 'We think we will find good information about what the BND has been doing.' And the NSA? GCHQ? He shakes his head. 'Isn’t that a bit depressing?' I say. 'That we’re sitting here in the parliament of one of the greatest democracies on earth, with a constitution that had to be rebuilt from the ground up, and there is nothing, legislatively that you can do?'
"'It is,' he says.
"But then Hubertus Knabe tells me: 'The minister of the Stasi always said, "We have to answer the question, who is who?" Those were his words. That means, who thinks what? It used to be an obvious fundamental difference between a democratic state and a dictatorial one that you don’t investigate someone until they did a criminal act. Innocent people are not surveiled. And in this, the difference between how a democratic state acts and how a totalitarian one acts has diminished. And this is very, I don’t know the English word. Besorgniserregend? Hold on, I will look it up,' and he taps into his phone. 'Alarming! This is very alarming to me.'
"I’m about to leave when he tells me about a conference he held recently at the museum. 'And this man, a former prisoner, kept saying this very strange thing. It was very annoying at first. He kept saying, "I am your future". "I already experienced what will be your future." But he was very serious. He had emigrated to Paris. He really meant it.'"
To read the entirety of Cadwalladr's article, click HERE.

Act 10:

From a 9-23-13 Washington's Blog article entitled "The Government Is Spying on Us through Our Computers, Phones, Cars, Buses, Streetlights, at Airports And on The Street, Via Mobile Scanners And Drones, through Our Smart Meters, And in Many Other Ways":

"Even now – after all of the revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers – spying apologists say that the reports are 'exaggerated' or 'overblown', and that the government only spies on potential bad guys.
"In reality, the government is spying on everyone’s digital and old-fashioned communications.
"The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.
"Moreover, Google knows just about every WiFi password in the world … and so the NSA does as well, since it spies so widely on Google.
"But it’s not just the Android.  In reality, the NSA can spy on just about everyone’s smart phone.
"Cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. (And – given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way.) Your iPhone, orother brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: 'That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker'). Remember, that might be happening even when your phone is turned off.
"The government might be spying on you through your computer’s webcam or microphone. The government might also be spying on you through the 'smart meter' on your own home.
"NSA also sometimes uses 'man-in-the-middle' tactics, to pretend that it is Google or other popular websites to grab your information.
"The FBI wants a backdoor to all software. But leading European computer publication Heise said in 1999 that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.
"Microsoft has long worked hand-in-hand with the NSA and FBI so that encryption doesn’t block the government’s ability to spy on users of Skype, Outlook, Hotmail and other Microsoft services.
"And Microsoft informs intelligence agencies of with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, so that information can be used by the government to access computers. (Software vulnerabilities are also sold to the highest bidder.)"
To read the entirety of this article, click HERE.
Act 11:
From Gregory Ferenstein's 8-26-15 Forbes article entitled "Weaponized Drones for Law Enforcement Now Legal in North Dakota":
"Drones can now legally fight criminals in the United States with non-lethal weapons thanks to a recently amended bill in North Dakota. The law’s author, Representative Rick Becker, originally wanted to require police to secure a warrant for drone surveillance.

"But, then local law enforcement managed to sneak in the right to equip drones with tasers or rubber bullets by amending the original prohibition against lethal and non-lethal force to just limiting lethal weapons. Becker worries that this new franken-bill will have dramatic unintended consequences.

"'I think it’s important to maintain the humanity in making decisions to deploy weapons against another individual,' he tells the Ferenstein Wire. 'We can’t depersonalize it and make it like a video game.'

"'As for now, Becker says he 'has no knowledge' that police are equipping drones with tasers to hunt down criminals. But, he was certain that local law enforcement did know what they were doing when they amended the law, so he suspects it could be an issue in the near future. 'Clearly it was important to them to add that provision,' he says."

To read the entirety of Ferenstein's article, click HERE.

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