Obama Quote Of The Week: Whistleblowing

“If you blow the whistle, you should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You shouldn’t be ignored and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.” – Barack Obama, 2014/08/07

Note that Obama is not referring to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden here, but whistleblowers in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal.

The “most transparent administration ever” (Obama) remains a myth.

If You Care About Privacy, You’ll Be Outraged By What President Obama Just Said.” Matt Connolly, Mic.com (2014/08/09).

NSA Created “Manhunt Timeline” To Get Julian Assange And WikiLeaks Supporters

The NSA created a “manhunt timeline” to get Julian Assange and destroy WikiLeaks and its supporters.

New revelations from The Intercept, the new publishing venture of Glenn Greenwald:

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. Image: NSA, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. Image: NSA, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

The NSA apparently planned a covert action campaign together with the British GCHQ to destroy Assange and the network of supporters around WikiLeaks.

As part of the effort, the GCHQ tracked in real-time any visitors to wikileaks.org, monitoring what they were searching for on the website.

The NSA also considered to designate WikiLeaks and other websites such as thepiratebay.org as “malicious foreign actors,” which would lift restrictions on spying on institutions and individuals inside the U.S that work with them. This might include international press agencies working in the U.S.

Watch an interview with Assange’s legal council Michael Ratner on DemocracyNow! here (it is the correct video, despite the image of Assange in the first frame):

In Ratner’s view, the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists parallels the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program targeting radicals and “subversives” (such as Martin Luther King) between the late 1950s and the 1970s.

And here is Assange, from the same broadcast on DemocracyNow!:

Snowden: U.S. Officials Want Me Killed

Snowden: U.S. officials want me killed

In an interview with German public TV network NDR, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that U.S. officials want him dead.

In the same interview, Snowden accuses the U.S. of industrial espionage.

Here is the interview:

UK Parliament Questions Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s Patriotism In Anti-Terrorism Hearing

UK Parliament questions Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism in anti-terrorism hearing

Photograph of the debating chamber of the British House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster, London, looking north-east. | Author: UK Parliament | Used under the Parliamentary copyright | Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:House_of_Commons.jpg
Photograph of the debating chamber of the British House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster, London, looking north-east. | Author: UK Parliament | Used under the Parliamentary copyright | Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:House_of_Commons.jpg

On December 3, 2013 the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger had to testify before the House of Commons of the British Parliament  in a hearing on anti-terrorism.

One of the rather stunning questions asked by Chair Keith Vaz was whether Rusbridger “love[d] this country [the UK].”

Rusbridger replied:

We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question but yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things [emphasis mine].

With us or against us – the excluded middle

Behind the questioning of Rusbridger’s “patriotism” because he, as a journalist, does not agree with the government’s national security narrative, lies the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. Either you agree with total surveillance of the world’s citizens in the name of national security or the terrorists win.

The possibility that there might be excesses in the surveillance architectures of the so-called Global War on Terrorism (there are!) , that much of what is being done in this area has probably more to do with gaining illegitimate advantages through economic espionage, or that there might be approaches that actually help fighting terrorism without eroding civil liberties does not occur in this line of thinking.

An uninformed citizenry cannot correct its government

The elephant in the room is this: Had it not been for Snowden, we the people of the world would never have known about the extent of surveillance against innocent citizens. Democracies rely on an adversarial press to keep the government in check.

Since the summer of 2013, the Guardian has been releasing articles based on the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, exposing the indiscriminate mass surveillance by the American NSA, the British GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies of the world’s citizens.

Read, see, and hear more:

[Audio and article] “Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger appears before MPs – live coverage.” (Paul Owen, Guardian, 2013/12/03) – Summary of the hearing and an audio recording can be found here.

Highlights from Guardian editor’s Parliament hearing.” (Kristen Hare, Poynter.org, 2013/12/03) – Many more questions to and answers from Alan Rusbridger.

MPs question Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism over Edward Snowden leaks.” (Ian Burrell, The Independent, 2013/12/03)

The progressive talk show The Young Turks reports on the hearing here:

 

 

Glenn Greenwald Interview On BBC HARDtalk

Glenn Greenwald Interview on BBC HARDtalk

On November 28, 2013, journalist Glenn Greenwald, known for reporting on the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, gave an interview to BBC HARDtalk, a format known for tough questioning that does not accept standard talking points.

The interview takes place at a time when the UK government, partly under pressure from the U.S., tries to attack the Guardian newspaper, i.e. shoot the messenger, for exposing the NSA’s and GCHQ’s blanket mass surveillance of the world’s citizens.

Read more:

Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden.” (Washington Post, 2013/11/29)

[Podcast] Dan Carlin Interviews NSA Whistleblower William Binney

[Podcast] Dan Carlin Interviews NSA Whistleblower William Binney

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg
Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg

You should definitely listen to this. Dan Carlin of the ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Hardcore History’ podcasts recently interviewed NSA whistleblower William Binney.

Before Edward Snowden, Binney and Thomas Drake were among the few former NSA officials to go public about the agency’s activities after 9/11.

Many of the allegations made by these earlier whistleblowers against the NSA’s antidemocratic, totalitarian mass surveillance efforts were confirmed in 2013 by the Snowden leaks.

Some of the interesting aspects touched on in in the interview are

  • Binney’s estimation that the NSA stores the content of our electronic communication
  • The disregard of the U.S. Constitution among the leadership of the NSA
  • How U.S. presidents, once they take office,  are “bamboozled” into believing the intelligence services’ narrative that they need to be allowed to break the Constitution in any way they wish in order to protect national security
  • The subversion of the judiciary process through creeping of NSA data into criminal cases that that do not have anything to do with terrorism and the subsequent cover-up through ‘parallel construction’ of legal cases

Listen more:

Old School Whistle-Blowing.” (Common Sense with Dan Carlin, episode 265, 2013/11/27)