Tag Archives: Big Brother

The Emergence of Orwellian Newspeak and the Death of Free Speech

By John W. Whitehead
July 02, 2015
The Rutherford Institute, June 29, 2015

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it…. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

As a society, we’ve become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today. The result is a nation where no one says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views. Intolerance is the new scarlet letter of our day, a badge to be worn in shame and humiliation, deserving of society’s fear, loathing and utter banishment from society.

For those “haters” who dare to voice a different opinion, retribution is swift: they will be shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes.”

We have entered a new age where, as commentator Mark Steyn notes, “we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells” and “the forces of ‘tolerance’ are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval.”

In such a climate of intolerance, there can be no freedom speech, expression or thought.

Yet what the forces of political correctness fail to realize is that they owe a debt to the so-called “haters” who have kept the First Amendment robust. From swastika-wearing Neo-Nazis marching through Skokie, Illinois, and underaged cross burners to “God hates fags” protesters assembled near military funerals, those who have inadvertently done the most to preserve the right to freedom of speech for all have espoused views that were downright unpopular, if not hateful.

Until recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has reiterated that the First Amendment prevents the government from proscribing speech, or even expressive conduct, because it disapproves of the ideas expressed. However, that long-vaunted, Court-enforced tolerance for “intolerant” speech has now given way to a paradigm in which the government can discriminate freely against First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum. Justifying such discrimination as “government speech,” the Court ruled that the Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles could refuse to issue specialty license plate designs featuring a Confederate battle flag. Why? Because it was deemed offensive.

The Court’s ruling came on the heels of a shooting in which a 21-year-old white gunman killed nine African-Americans during a Wednesday night Bible study at a church in Charleston, N.C. The two events, coupled with the fact that gunman Dylann Roof was reportedly pictured on several social media sites with a Confederate flag, have resulted in an emotionally charged stampede to sanitize the nation’s public places of anything that smacks of racism, starting with the Confederate flag and ballooning into a list that includes the removal of various Civil War monuments.

These tactics are nothing new. This nation, birthed from puritanical roots, has always struggled to balance its love of liberty with its moralistic need to censor books, music, art, language, symbols etc. As author Ray Bradbury notes, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

Indeed, thanks to the rise of political correctness, the population of book burners, censors, and judges has greatly expanded over the years so that they run the gamut from left-leaning to right-leaning and everything in between. By eliminating words, phrases and symbols from public discourse, the powers-that-be are sowing hate, distrust and paranoia. In this way, by bottling up dissent, they are creating a pressure cooker of stifled misery that will eventually blow.

For instance, the word “Christmas” is now taboo in the public schools, as is the word “gun.” Even childish drawings of soldiers result in detention or suspension under rigid zero tolerance policies. On college campuses, trigger warnings are being used to alert students to any material they might read, see or hear that might upset them, while free speech zones restrict anyone wishing to communicate a particular viewpoint to a specially designated area on campus. Things have gotten so bad that comedians such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to perform stand-up routines to college crowds anymore.

Clearly, the country is undergoing a nervous breakdown, and the news media is helping to push us to the brink of insanity by bombarding us with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days.

In this way, it’s difficult to think or debate, let alone stay focused on one thing—namely, holding the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law—and the powers-that-be understand this.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, regularly scheduled trivia and/or distractions keep the citizenry tuned into the various breaking news headlines and entertainment spectacles and tuned out to the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms. These sleight-of-hand distractions and diversions are how you control a population, either inadvertently or intentionally, advancing a political agenda agenda without much opposition from the citizenry.

Professor Jacques Ellul studied this phenomenon of overwhelming news, short memories and the use of propaganda to advance hidden agendas. “One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones,” wrote Ellul.

Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but he does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man’s capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandists, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks.

Already, the outrage over the Charleston shooting and racism are fading from the news headlines, yet the determination to censor the Confederate symbol remains. Before long, we will censor it from our thoughts, sanitize it from our history books, and eradicate it from our monuments without even recalling why. The question, of course, is what’s next on the list to be banned?

It was for the sake of preserving individuality and independence that James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

This freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society. Conversely, when we fail to abide by Madison’s dictates about greater tolerance for all viewpoints, no matter how distasteful, the end result is always the same: an indoctrinated, infantilized citizenry that marches in lockstep with the governmental regime.

Some of this past century’s greatest dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three—Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell—had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell’s Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984:

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as “This dog is free from lice” or “This field is free from weeds.” It could not be used in its old sense of “politically free” or “intellectually free,” since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts….

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go. Our backs are to the walls. From this point on, we have only two options: go down fighting, or capitulate and betray our loved ones, our friends and our selves by insisting that, as a brainwashed Winston Smith does at the end of Orwell’s 1984, yes, 2+2 does equal 5.

– See more at: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_emergence_of_orwellian_newspeak_and_the_death_of_free_speech#sthash.TzikVABy.dpuf

Britain Using PsyOps Domestically to Encourage “Conformity”

By Derrick Broze
June 26, 2015
The Anti-Media, June 24, 2015

 

ObeyCameronAccording to newly released documents published byThe Intercept, a special unit with the British spy agency is involved in psychological operations, or PsyOps, and propaganda campaigns against groups it labels “extremist.”

The documents are the latest from the trove released by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The new documents show that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) operates an elite unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). First revealed last year, JTRIG is known for using sexual “honey traps” to discredit targets, using denial-of-service attacks to shut down Internet chat rooms, and generally pushing propaganda on social media.

Despite official claims that JTRIG is focused on international targets in Iran or Afghanistan, the latest information reveals that the unit was focusing on domestic activity within the U.K.—activity typically monitored by local police or domestic law enforcement agencies.

The Intercept reports:

An August 2009 JTRIG memo entitled ‘Operational Highlights’ boasts of ‘GCHQ’s first serious crime effects operation’ against a website that was identifying police informants and members of a witness protection program. Another operation investigated an Internet forum allegedly ‘used to facilitate and execute online fraud.’ The document also describes GCHQ advice provided ‘to assist the UK negotiating team on climate change.’

Particularly revealing is a fascinating 42-page document from 2011 detailing JTRIG’s activities. It provides the most comprehensive and sweeping insight to date into the scope of this unit’s extreme methods. Entitled ‘Behavioral Science Support for JTRIG’s Effects and Online HUMINT [Human Intelligence] Operations,’ it describes the types of targets on which the unit focuses, the psychological and behavioral research it commissions and exploits, and its future organizational aspirations. It is authored by a psychologist, Mandeep K. Dhami.

The documents (Behavioural Science Support for JTRIG’S Effects and Online HUMINT Operations,U.K. Ministry Stakeholder Relationships Spreadsheets) outline tactics employed by the agency, including ways to manipulate public opinion, understand human thinking and behavior, and encourage conformity.

According to the documents, JTRIG “currently collaborates with other agencies,” including the Metropolitan police, the Security Service (MI5), the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the Border Agency, Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the National Public Order and Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). One of JTRIG’s objectives includes “monitoring ‘domestic extremist groups such as the English Defence League by conducting online HUMINT’; ‘denying, deterring or dissuading’ criminals and ‘hacktivists’; and ‘deterring, disrupting or degrading online consumerism of stolen data or child porn.”

One of the reports from 2011 outlines JTRIG’s tactics, including uploading YouTube videos containing “persuasive communications,” starting Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, and creating fake online personalities and supporters “to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt.”

JTRIG also relies on an understanding of psychology which is “critical” to operations. The unit used social media campaigns to encourage and foster “obedience” and “conformity”. Section 3.6 Obedience, says compliance can be achieved by “engendering liking (attractiveness); instilling a sense of scarcity or secrecy; getting compliance to a small request at first.”

Essentially, the U.K. government is using an elite unit of spies to launch psychological operations on “extremists” by creating fake accounts and videos to promote conformity and obedience. However, the practice is not exclusive to the U.K.. PsyOps are used by nations around the world.

The 2002 edition of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines psychological operations as

integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.

Since that time, PsyOp has fallen out of favor and the term is now officially known as Military Information Support Operations, or MISO. It is defined as

Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals in a manner favorable to the originator’s objectives.

The United States military was famously caught using psychological operations in 2011, when Rolling Stone reported that “the U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in ‘psychological operations’ to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war.”

Indeed, the operations seem crucial to the mission of the United States government (and totalitarian governments around the globe, for that matter). According to the leaked U.S. Special Forces counterinsurgency manual:

PSYOP [Psychological Operations] are essential to the success of PRC [Population & Resources Control]. For maximum effectiveness, a strong psychological operations effort is directed toward the families of the insurgents and their popular support base. The PSYOP aspect of the PRC program tries to make the imposition of control more palatable to the people by relating the necessity of controls to their safety and well-being. PSYOP efforts also try to create a favorable national or local government image and counter the effects of the insurgent propaganda effort.

Without a doubt, the U.S. government continues to label its own population “extremist” and is focusing its propaganda efforts domestically. The U.S. Special Forces Counterinsurgency Manual—as well as the new Snowden documents—should be required reading for all revolutionaries seeking to understand the tactics of the U.S. government. Only by educating ourselves can we hope to form a united, empowered front against government tyranny.

Derrick Broze writes for theAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in! Anti-Media Radioairs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:edits@theantimedia.org.

Spy Agency’s Secret Plans to Foster Online “Conformity” and “Obedience” Exposed

Internal memo from secretive British spy unit exposes how GCHQ and NSA used human psychological research to create sophisticated online propaganda tools

By Jon Queally
June 23, 2015
Common Dreams

 

“Among other things,” The Intercept reports, “the document lays out the tactics the agency uses to manipulate public opinion, its scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced, and the broad range of targets that are traditionally the province of law enforcement rather than intelligence agencies.” (Photo: Getty Images)

With never-before-seen documents accompanied by new reporting on Monday, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman are offering a more in-depth look than ever into how a secretive unit of the UK’s GCHQ surveillance agency used a host of psychological methods and online subterfuge in order to manipulate the behavior of individuals and groups through the internet and other digital forms of communication.

According to the reporting, the latest documents, which were leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,

demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist,” Islamist activity in schools, the drug trade, online fraud, and financial scams.

Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

Among the most troubling revelations is a 42-page internal JTRIG memo that describes in detail how the elite unit developed, maintained, and apparently sought to expand its “scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced” in order to increase its ability to “manipulate public opinion” via online tools like email, social media, video, discussion forums, and other platforms.

Greenwald and Fishman argue JTRIG’s self-documented exploits are most notable because of their “extensive use of propaganda methods and other online tactics of deceit and manipulation” that are not only reserved for “suspected foreign enemies” or criminals, as the agency continues to claim, but have also been used against other groups and individuals that the agency deems threatening or “politically radical.”

As Common Dreams reported in February of 2014—when the existence of JTRIG was first made public—the GCHQ has used the unit to develop and deploy a complex series of “dirty tricks,” “propoganda,” and “false flag” operations designed to spy on selected targets who included not only “suspected terrorists” and “criminals” but also diplomats, journalists, and activists.

Included in the new JTRIG memo is this detailed look at the manipulative online tactics developed by the group:

The reporting also highlights the internal memo’s focus on “manipulation” and how the GCHQ hoped to foster both “conformity” and “obedience” among those targeted:

Read The Intercept‘s full reporting here. And links to the new published documents follow:

UK government, Murdoch press smear of Edward Snowden unravels

By Chris Marsden
June 16, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

A press attack on National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has backfired on the UK government.

This weekend’s Sunday Times ran an article under the headline, “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese,” citing numerous anonymous sources from within the government and security services.

The sources once again painted a picture of Edward Snowden having endangered the lives of spies and informants, jeopardising state operations. The Times article was replete with unfounded assertions, distortions and outright lies.

Both Russia and China were said to “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.”

Moscow was supposed to have “gained access to more than 1m classified files,” after Snowden “fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.”

“Senior government sources” then “confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents.”

A “senior Home Office source” accused Snowden of having “blood on his hands”, “although,” the Sunday Times immediately added, “Downing Street said there was ‘no evidence of anyone being harmed’.”

The only named source, Sir David Omand, the former director of GCHQ, called Russia and China’s supposed de-encryption of Snowden’s files a “huge strategic setback” that was “harming” to Britain, America and their NATO allies.

The Sunday Times claimed that a comment made by a “senior Downing Street source,” i.e., from the prime minister’s office, “that Russians and Chinese have information,” represented irrefutable proof of the veracity of the claims. It was, moreover, “the first evidence that Snowden’s disclosures have exacted a human toll”.

This was followed by another “senior Home Office source” declaring, “Why do you think Snowden ended up in Russia? Putin didn’t give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.”

All of which goes to prove the old adage, “If you tell a lie, tell a big one and stick to it.”

Glenn Greenwald, who worked closely with Snowden, issued a devastating rebuttal of the Sunday Times, noting, “The whole article does literally nothing other than quote anonymous British officials,” while offering “zero evidence or confirmation for any of its claims.”

He noted several particularly glaring falsehoods: When Snowden left Hong Kong, he took no files with him, having given them to the journalists with whom he worked, and then destroying his copy so that it wouldn’t be vulnerable as he travelled. “How, then, could Russia have obtained Snowden’s files as the story claims—‘his documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure’—if he did not even have physical possession of them?”

The Sunday Times states that David Miranda, cynically referred to as “the boyfriend of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald”, was “seized at Heathrow in 2013 while in possession of 58,000 ‘highly classified’ intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow.” Greenwald counters that Miranda “had never been to Moscow and had never met Snowden. … The Sunday Times ‘journalists’ printed an outright fabrication in order to support their key point: that Snowden had files with him in Moscow. This is the only ‘fact’ included in their story that suggests Snowden had files with him when he left Hong Kong, and it’s completely, demonstrably false…”

The claim that the Russian and Chinese governments learned the names of covert agents by cracking the Snowden file, “forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries,” he adds, “appears quite clearly to be a fabrication by the Sunday Times … [because] not even the anonymous officials claim that Russia and China hacked the entire archive, instead offering only vague assertions that Russian and China ‘have information’.”

Greenwald ends by noting, “The Sunday Times has now quietly deleted one of the central, glaring lies in its story: that David Miranda had just met with Snowden in Moscow when he was detained at Heathrow carrying classified documents.” The claim “remains in the print edition and thus requires a retraction.”

Privacy International, Liberty, MPs Tom Watson and David Davies and many others have pointed to the timing of the Sunday Times smear, suggesting that it is a counter to last Thursday’s publication of the official report on UK surveillance laws by David Anderson QC. They have cited in particular its call for judicial rather than ministerial oversight of surveillance.

This lends unwarranted credibility to a report that in fact justifies existing mass collection of phone and Internet data and the extension of such powers providing only that a “detailed operational case” and a “rigorous assessment” of the intrusiveness, effectiveness, cost and legality of extended snooping powers is made by the security services. This is meaningless, no matter what civil liberties groups might believe or suggest.

Anderson also supports the compulsory retention of “third party data” and urges the government to secure the cooperation of Google, Facebook, etc., to this end. He comes out in support of companies handing over encryption keys.

What is of greater concern for both the government and the Murdoch press is the widespread public opposition to mass surveillance, particularly when the intention is to pass the “snoopers’ charter” into law in the autumn.

The Draft Communications Data Bill creates wide-ranging powers to compel any communications service provider to collect and retain information about any organisation that interacts with users and produces or transmits electronic communications, even if this information is irrelevant to their business needs. This information includes Deep Packet Inspection that bypasses encryption software and matching data from different sources to create a central database of communications, behaviours and patterns of activity.

Last week, the Intelligence and Security Committee confirmed that Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is still collecting “bulk personal datasets” from millions of people’s phone and Internet records. Privacy International has launched a legal claim before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) calling for this practice to be ended—citing the passing of the USA Freedom Act ostensibly curtailing the bulk collection of phone record metadata. In the UK, this is still legal under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) passed in 2014.

In addition, last month GCHQ operatives and the police were made exempt from prosecution for hacking under the Computer Misuse Act (1990). The exemption move was first initiated last June, one week after a case taken out at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal by Privacy International and seven Internet and communications service providers, and was included in the Serious Crime Bill 2015. The IPT case focused on the alleged use of hacking tools to download malicious software allowing users’ cameras and microphones to be remotely hijacked.

The smearing of Snowden, like that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is a vital element in a general effort to create a climate of fear to justify state surveillance and repression. This has long been conducted in the name of combating Islamic terrorism. Now, in line with the predatory aims of British and US imperialism, the threat is said to come from Russia and China.

In all cases, millions of working people in Britain and internationally are identified as “the enemy within”, whose democratic rights are trampled on by a ruling elite hell bent on destroying jobs, wages and vital social services.

US Senate approves extension of NSA spying

By Patrick Martin
June 3, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The US Senate voted by a top-heavy bipartisan majority Tuesday to approve legislation that extends several key spying programs of the National Security Agency. President Obama declared his intention to sign the bill into law “as soon as I get it” in order to allow the NSA to resume the collection of telephone metadata and several other surveillance efforts that had nominally been suspended with the expiration of authorization under the Patriot Act Sunday night.

While the White House, congressional leaders of both parties and the American media are all portraying the so-called USA Freedom Act as a significant restriction on NSA spying, an effort to “strike a balance” between security and civil liberties, it is nothing of the kind.

In the first place, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, whose expiration May 31 made passage of the new authorization necessary, only covers a tiny fraction of the vast surveillance operations of the NSA. The collection of telephone metadata on every American was only one of the many of these illegal and unconstitutional programs first exposed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, now in exile in Russia.

In a bitter floor speech just before the final vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the bill as “a victory for Edward Snowden,” but this is merely part of the congressional play-acting aimed at giving the American people the illusion that something is being done about illegal government spying, when it continues on a virtually unlimited and ever-expanding scale.

Only hours before McConnell’s diatribe, the Associated Press revealed yet another secret government spying program—hundreds of flights by a fleet of FBI planes that conduct low-flying video and cellphone surveillance over dozens of American cities .

McConnell denounced the bill for supposedly “taking away another tool from those who defend us every day” because it phases out the bulk collection of telephone metadata by the NSA, leaving collection of data to the telecommunications companies, which are in turn required to respond to NSA search requests once they are approved by the rubber-stamp FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court.

The bill contains a few other cosmetic efforts to conceal the build-up of police-state powers in America. The secret FISA court is required to hear from privacy advocates and document its decisions on surveillance policy, rather than, as in the past, hearing only from government prosecutors and making all its decisions in secret. This will have no material effect on the surveillance state.

The Senate passed the grossly misnamed USA Freedom Act by a vote of 67-32, with nearly all the opposition coming from right-wing Republicans, led by McConnell, who objected to even the minor limitations on the surveillance operations of the US government contained in the bill. The House passed the same bill last month by an overwhelming margin of 388 to 38, with the backing of Speaker John Boehner and the entire Republican leadership.

The 67-32 Senate vote actually expresses near-unanimous support for the US intelligence apparatus. Democrats backed the bill by 44-2. Republicans were split, 23 in favor and 30 against, but nearly all those opposed wanted no restrictions on NSA spying, even of a cosmetic character.

After McConnell’s vitriolic attack on the Obama White House for supposedly capitulating to Edward Snowden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid retorted that it was McConnell who had undermined US spy operations by his mistaken handling of delaying tactics by Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, leading to the supposed shutdown of the telephone metadata program by the NSA Sunday night.

Final passage came after the Senate narrowly rejected all three amendments put forward by McConnell and the Republican leadership to further water down the bill’s anemic “reform” element. One amendment would have set the transition period from NSA databases to telecom databases at a year, rather than six months. Another would have required the telecoms to notify the NSA before any change in data retention policy, and mandated the NSA to certify that it was ready to make the transition without any loss of ability to conduct searches. The third amendment would have eliminated the requirement that the FISA court report to Congress on significant changes in the interpretation of surveillance laws.

The amendments were less important substantively than as an attempt to delay passage of the legislation indefinitely, since an amended bill would have to go back to the House for further deliberation. In that event, the Senate Republican leadership hoped to push through a simple extension of all Patriot Act surveillance authority, without any cosmetic changes.

A US Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that Section 215 of the Patriot Act did not provide adequate legal authority for the telephone metadata collection—in effect, finding the program had been operating illegally for 14 years. The White House and the congressional leadership of both parties moved quickly to reestablish the program using a different legal process—FISA warrants served on the telecoms—to accomplish the same end.

Appearing on the CBS program Face the Nation Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan denounced the protracted wrangling in the Senate and whipping up fears of new terrorist attacks—despite the well-documented fact that none of the Section 215 programs has played any role in disrupting terrorist activities. “Anyone who is satisfied with letting this critical intelligence capability go dark isn’t taking the terrorist threat seriously,” Brennan said. “I’d urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, and do so expeditiously.”

Brennan declared, “I think terrorist elements have watched very carefully what has happened here in the United States, whether or not it’s disclosures of classified information or whether it’s changes in the law and policies. They are looking for the seams to operate within.”

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote, Obama made increasingly strident denunciations of the congressional delay in approving the extension of NSA spying authority. The White House issued a statement Sunday night, after the expiration of Section 215, declaring, “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible. On a matter as critical as our national security, individual senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly. The American people deserve nothing less.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the American people faced “unnecessary risk,” because of the loss of surveillance tools “our national security professionals can use to keep us safe.” In reality, there was no change in the operation of the vast US police-intelligence apparatus, as the New York Times admitted, reporting that “interviews with law enforcement and intelligence officials about what they will do in the interim suggest there are multiple workarounds to the gap.”

Current NSA Officials Admit Agency Is Drowning In TOO MUCH Info

By WahingtonsBlog
May 31, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

The Problem Isn’t Too Little Spying … It’s Too Much

Former top NSA officials have repeatedly said that the NSA is collecting TOO MUCH information on Americans to be able to stop terror attacks.

The Intercept reports that current mid-level NSA officials confirm that the NSA is gathering TOO MUCH information… and it’s making it impossible to focus:

“We in the agency are at risk of a similar, collective paralysis in the face of a dizzying array of choices every single day,” the analyst wrote in 2011. “’Analysis paralysis’ isn’t only a cute rhyme. It’s the term for what happens when you spend so much time analyzing a situation that you ultimately stymie any outcome …. It’s what happens in SIGINT [signals intelligence] when we have access to endless possibilities, but we struggle to prioritize, narrow, and exploit the best ones.”

The document is one of about a dozen in which NSA intelligence experts express concerns usually heard from the agency’s critics: that the U.S. government’s “collect it all” strategy can undermine the effort to fight terrorism. The documents, provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, appear to contradict years of statements from senior officials who have claimed that pervasive surveillance of global communications helps the government identify terrorists before they strike or quickly find them after an attack.

***

The documents suggest that analysts at the NSA have drowned in data since 9/11, making it more difficult for them to find the real threats. The titles of the documents capture their overall message: “Data Is Not Intelligence,” “The Fallacies Behind the Scenes,” “Cognitive Overflow?” “Summit Fever” and “In Praise of Not Knowing.” Other titles include “Dealing With a ‘Tsunami’ of Intercept” and “Overcome by Overload?”

***

[One NSA document], titled “Too Many Choices,” started off in a colorful way but ended with a fairly stark warning: “The SIGINT mission is far too vital to unnecessarily expand the haystacks while we search for the needles. Prioritization is key.”

***

An amusing parable circulated at the NSA a few years ago. Two people go to a farm and purchase a truckload of melons for a dollar each. They then sell the melons along a busy road for the same price, a dollar. As they drive back to the farm for another load, they realize they aren’t making a profit, so one of them suggests, “Do you think we need a bigger truck?”The parable was written by an intelligence analyst in a document dated Jan. 23, 2012 that was titled, “Do We Need a Bigger SIGINT Truck?” It expresses, in a lively fashion, a critique of the agency’s effort to collect what former NSA Director Keith Alexander referred to as “the whole haystack.” The critique goes to the heart of the agency’s drive to gather as much of the world’s communications as possible: because it may not find what it needs in a partial haystack of data, the haystack is expanded as much as possible, on the assumption that more data will eventually yield useful information.

***

The author of a 2011 document … stated, “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”

***

Another document, written by an intelligence analyst in 2010, bluntly stated that “we are drowning in information. And yet we know nothing. For sure.”

Indeed, top security experts agree that mass surveillance is ineffective … and actually makes us MORE vulnerable to terrorism.

The NSA’s Technotyranny: One Nation Under Surveillance

By John Whitehead
May 27, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.”—William Binney, NSA whistleblower

We now have a fourth branch of government.

As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.

You might know this branch of government as Surveillance, but I prefer “technotyranny,” a term coined by investigative journalist James Bamford to refer to an age of technological tyranny made possible by government secrets, government lies, government spies and their corporate ties.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.

The police state is about to pass off the baton to the surveillance state.

Having already transformed local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s soldier cops into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.

This is about to be the new face of policing in America.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been a perfect red herring, distracting us from the government’s broader, technology-driven campaign to render us helpless in the face of its prying eyes. In fact, long before the NSA became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine.

The raging debate over the fate of the NSA’s blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and ongoing domestic surveillance programs is just so much noise, what Shakespeare referred to as “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

It means nothing: the legislation, the revelations, the task forces, and the filibusters.

The government is not giving up, nor is it giving in. It has stopped listening to us. It has long since ceased to take orders from “we the people.”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, none of it—the military drills, the surveillance, the militarized police, the strip searches, the random pat downs, the stop-and-frisks, even the police-worn body cameras—is about fighting terrorism. It’s about controlling the populace.

Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the NSA continues to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.

Legislation such as the USA Patriot Act serves only to legitimize the actions of a secret agency run by a shadow government. Even the proposed and ultimately defeated USA Freedom Act, which purported to restrict the reach of the NSA’s phone surveillance program—at least on paper—by requiring the agency to secure a warrant before surveillance could be carried out on American citizens and prohibiting the agency from storing any data collected on Americans, amounted to little more than a paper tiger: threatening in appearance, but lacking any real bite.

The question of how to deal with the NSA—an agency that operates outside of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution—is a divisive issue that polarizes even those who have opposed the NSA’s warrantless surveillance from the get-go, forcing all of us—cynics, idealists, politicians and realists alike—to grapple with a deeply unsatisfactory and dubious political “solution” to a problem that operates beyond the reach of voters and politicians: how do you trust a government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing to actually obey the law?

Since its official start in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency—nicknamed “No Such Agency”—has operated covertly, unaccountable to Congress all the while using taxpayer dollars to fund its secret operations. It was only when the agency ballooned to 90,000 employees in 1969, making it the largest intelligence agency in the world with a significant footprint outside Washington, DC, that it became more difficult to deny its existence.

In the aftermath of Watergate in 1975, the Senate held meetings under the Church Committee in order to determine exactly what sorts of illicit activities the American intelligence apparatus was engaged in under the direction of President Nixon, and how future violations of the law could be stopped. It was the first time the NSA was exposed to public scrutiny since its creation.

The investigation revealed a sophisticated operation whose surveillance programs paid little heed to such things as the Constitution. For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”

Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers “at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator “to impose total tyranny” upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not “want to see this country ever go across the bridge” of constitutional protection, congressional oversight and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that “we,” implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, “must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

The result was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated. The law requires that the NSA get clearance from the FISA Court, a secret surveillance court, before it can carry out surveillance on American citizens. Fast forward to the present day, and the so-called solution to the problem of government entities engaging in unjustified and illegal surveillance—the FISA Court—has unwittingly become the enabler of such activities, rubberstamping almost every warrant request submitted to it.

The 9/11 attacks served as a watershed moment in our nation’s history, ushering in an era in which immoral and/or illegal government activities such as surveillance, torture, strip searches, SWAT team raids are sanctioned as part of the quest to keep us “safe.”

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. That wireless wiretap program was reportedly ended in 2007 after the New York Times reported on it, to mass indignation.

Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.

It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.

What this brief history of the NSA makes clear is that you cannot reform the NSA.

As long as the government is allowed to make a mockery of the law—be it the Constitution, the FISA Act or any other law intended to limit its reach and curtail its activities—and is permitted to operate behind closed doors, relaying on secret courts, secret budgets and secret interpretations of the laws of the land, there will be no reform.

Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have done much to put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.”

The beast has outgrown its chains. It will not be restrained.

The growing tension seen and felt throughout the country is a tension between those who wield power on behalf of the government—the president, Congress, the courts, the military, the militarized police, the technocrats, the faceless unelected bureaucrats who blindly obey and carry out government directives, no matter how immoral or unjust, and the corporations—and those among the populace who are finally waking up to the mounting injustices, seething corruption and endless tyrannies that are transforming our country into a technocrized police state.

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative democracy by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

What we have failed to truly comprehend is that the NSA is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for the CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts. Conveniently, as the Intercept recently revealed, many of the NSA’s loudest defenders have financial ties to NSA contractors.

Thus, if this secret regime not only exists but thrives, it is because we have allowed it through our ignorance, apathy and naïve trust in politicians who take their orders from Corporate America rather than the Constitution.

If this shadow government persists, it is because we have yet to get outraged enough to push back against its power grabs and put an end to its high-handed tactics.

And if this unelected bureaucracy succeeds in trampling underfoot our last vestiges of privacy and freedom, it will be because we let ourselves be fooled into believing that politics matters, that voting makes a difference, that politicians actually represent the citizenry, that the courts care about justice, and that everything that is being done is in our best interests.

Indeed, as political scientist Michael J. Glennon warns, you can vote all you want, but the people you elect aren’t actually the ones calling the shots. “The American people are deluded … that the institutions that provide the public face actually set American national security policy,” stated Glennon. “They believe that when they vote for a president or member of Congress or succeed in bringing a case before the courts, that policy is going to change. But … policy by and large in the national security realm is made by the concealed institutions.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter who occupies the White House: the secret government with its secret agencies, secret budgets and secret programs won’t change. It will simply continue to operate in secret until some whistleblower comes along to momentarily pull back the curtain and we dutifully—and fleetingly—play the part of the outraged public, demanding accountability and rattling our cages, all the while bringing about little real reform.

Thus, the lesson of the NSA and its vast network of domestic spy partners is simply this: once you allow the government to start breaking the law, no matter how seemingly justifiable the reason, you relinquish the contract between you and the government which establishes that the government works for and obeys you, the citizen—the employer—the master.

Once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there’s no way to rein it back in, short of revolution. And by revolution, I mean doing away with the entire structure, because the corruption and lawlessness have become that pervasive.

UK government counter-terrorism bill would criminalize speech, political activity

By Jordan Shilton
May 18, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The Conservative government in Britain is preparing to enact new legislation that, under the guise of the “war on terror,” will vastly expand police-state powers and essentially criminalize speech and other political activity.

Presented officially as an anti-terrorism bill, the proposed measures will be targeted at any popular opposition to the government’s policies of aggressive militarism abroad and austerity measures in Britain.

Following his party’s victory in the May 7 general election, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the proposal at last week’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting. The meeting, chaired by Cameron, brings together leading government officials with the heads of Britain’s security agencies.

The new bill will include a series of measures targeting groups and individuals deemed by the government to be “extremist.” This term is defined so vaguely as to encompass a wide array of political activity.

The new bill will create extremist “disruption orders” for individuals and “banning orders” for groups. The targets for these new police powers will be those who have conducted “harmful” behaviour.

According to the Guardian, the “harmful” behaviour covers activities that pose “a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.”

This will be used to criminalise campaigns critical of government policy and protests, which are frequently dispersed by the police on precisely the grounds that they disrupt public order. The language also indicates that the government would have the authority to target those merely planning such activity prior to it taking place.

Extremist disruption orders will permit the government to take action against individuals considered to have engaged in such harmful behaviour, or whom the government claims have attempted to “radicalise” youth.

The orders contain bans on individuals broadcasting their views on television, and anyone subject to an order will be compelled to submit any written publication, including social media posts, to the police before it is printed. In addition, the orders will make it illegal for individuals to attend or address public gatherings or protests.

OffCom, the broadcast regulator, is to be given powers to move against channels judged to be broadcasting “extremist” material. The charity commission will be able to take action against charities that “fund terrorism.”

Banning orders will allow the government to outlaw “extremist” organisations. If such a move is taken, anyone found to be a member of the organisation will be guilty of a criminal offence. Authorities will also be able to shut down premises used by groups to promote “extremism.”

Human rights group Privacy International branded the new proposal as an “assault on the rights of ordinary British citizens.”

Islamist groups will not be the main focus of the new law. As the Guardian ’s home affairs editor wrote in an analysis of the proposal, “the official definition of non-violent extremism is already wide-ranging and, as Big Brother Watch has pointed out, the national extremism database already includes the names of people who have done little more than organise meetings on environmental issues.”

The requirement that the government apply to the courts to obtain such orders will do little to prevent their abuse. The government has repeatedly invoked national security considerations to present evidence to the courts in secret. It even intended to hold an entire terrorism trial in secret last year before abandoning it at the last minute. The declaration of a national security threat would thus permit government claims about an individual or group to go unchallenged in the courts by an independent lawyer, since the only individuals allowed access to such information are government-appointed legal representatives.

Together with a sweeping attack on democratic rights and legal norms, the Conservatives’ anti-terror bill will further advance the government’s right-wing agenda of whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment. New powers will be established to deny immigrants entry on the grounds of preaching extremist views.

Cameron’s proposals make clear that the Conservatives are determined to vastly expand the repressive powers of the state, including by reintroducing the controversial “snooper’s charter” which would grant intelligence agencies the power to conduct mass surveillance and store data from emails and other internet data from social networking sites and messaging services. It will also allow authorities to access encrypted messages.

Cameron claimed that the UK has been a “‘passively tolerant society’ for too long, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

This extraordinary declaration is a backhanded acknowledgement that those who Cameron intends to target with the new law have committed no crime under the existing legal system.

“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality,” Cameron proclaimed.

Cameron’s reference to “one nation” were especially sinister. It suggests that anyone challenging the political interests of the British ruling class and championing the rights and interests of the working class will be targeted for surveillance and repression.

The “values” Cameron talks about promoting are precisely those that have been used by successive governments to wage aggressive wars abroad to uphold British imperialist interests, and carry through an assault on social and democratic rights at home.

These policies have seen British imperialism, alongside American imperialism, aligned with some of the very Islamist forces it now seeks to present as the greatest threat to the country. In the 2011 regime change operation in Libya, Britain participated in the NATO bombing campaign that toppled the Gaddafi regime, while supplying weapons to Islamist groups in the country. Many of these groups had ties to Al Qaida and later moved to Syria with CIA support, where some elements came together to form the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The assertion that Britain has been “passively tolerant” for too long is a lie. The entire political establishment, including the opposition Labour Party, has been complicit in erecting the framework of a police state in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the London bombings in 2005.

The Labour government under Tony Blair brought forward “anti-terror” measures in 2001 that included wide-ranging police powers to detain suspects for crimes committed under an expanded definition of terrorism. In 2006, a further law allowed the prosecution of those “encouraging” terrorism, which saw individuals put on trial purely for making statements or posting videos online that had no connection to a specific terrorist attack.

However, the push to go even further has been growing for some time. In the wake of the attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, political figures and intelligence operatives criticised Britain’s anti-terror laws for not doing enough to monitor the Internet.

The planned actions in the UK are part of an escalating international assault on democratic rights. Earlier this month, the French National Assembly passed legislation sanctioning mass spying and other police state measures. Also this month, the Canadian House of Commons passed the “Anti-Terror Act,” which gave the state vast new powers, including the ability to target any activities declared a danger to “national security.”

The Mindset of UK Prime Minister David Cameron – It’s Not Enough to Follow the Law, You Must Love Big Brother

By Michael Krieger
May 16, 2015
Liberty Blitzkrieg

 

It’s not just those domestic extremists and crazy “conspiracy theory” kooks who took serious issue with UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent overtly fascist language when it comes to freedom of expression in Great Britain. For example, in a post published today, the UK Independent describes the quote below as “the creepiest thing David Cameron has ever said.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.52.20 AM

This statement, and others like it, are a huge deal. This isn’t how the leader of a major civilized Western so-called “democracy” speaks to the citizenry. It is how a master talks to his slaves. How a ruler addresses his subjects. I think the following tweet by Glenn Greenwald earlier today sums up David Cameron’s attitude perfectly well:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>This is really the mentality of Her Majesty's Government RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/akaSassinak”>@akaSassinak</a&gt; But now it is not enough to obey. You must LOVE BIG BROTHER.</p>&mdash; Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/598831206311010304″>May 14, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Those of us who are in disbelief over David Cameron’s recent language, don’t have to just point to the quote above. There’s a lot more to it than a simple quote. For example, the Guardian reports:

The measures would give the police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the “harmful activities” of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a “threat to the functioning of democracy”.

A “risk of public disorder,” or a “risk of harassment alarm or distress.” Think about that for a second. Pretty much 90% of all speech could be classified as posing a risk to all of those things. It’s basically banning any criticism the government doesn’t like. Truly remarkable. Now here’s how the magnificent “democracy” of Great Britain plans on dealing with such “extremists.”

They would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web and social media or in print. The bill will also contain plans for banning orders for extremist organizations which seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places, but it will fall short of banning on the grounds of provoking hatred.

Although I’m not a British citizen and have never lived in the UK, I have spent some time writing about the disturbing trends happening across the pond due to the historic, cultural, geopolitical and linguistic ties between the U.S. and Great Britain. I warned all about these dangerous trends last fall in the post, The UK’s Conservative Party Declares War on YouTube, Twitter, Free Speech and Common Sense. Here are a few excerpts:

Teresa May wants to “ban non-violent extremist groups that fall short of the current threshold for being banned as terrorist-related organizations.” Think about that very closely. Essentially, she is saying non-violent groups that are currently not breaking any laws should be criminalized by creating new laws. Once this process begins, it will continue to be expanded and expanded until pretty much every form of expression other than government propaganda will be banned.

Secondly, she notes that the new laws are necessary to combat groups that undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy.” Considering that the U.S. government changes the meanings of words at a moment’s notice, such as claiming that “imminent” doesn’t really mean “imminent,” I argue that an official government definition of democracy is necessary. Moreover, what if the UK is like the U.S., a state that claims to be a democracy, but in reality is an oligarchy? What are the rules about calling for the removal of an oligarchy?

Have fun mates.

For related articles, see:

The UK’s Conservative Party Declares War on YouTube, Twitter, Free Speech and Common Sense

Britain’s “War on Terror” Insanity Continues – David Cameron Declares War on Encryption

How UK Prime Minister David Cameron Paid Thousands of Dollars for Facebook “Likes”

Press Rebellion in the UK – British Media Launches Protest Against Spying, as GCHQ Places Investigative Journalism in Same Category as Terrorism

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Inventor of Antivirus Sofware: The Government Is Planting Malicious Software On Your Phone So It Can Bypass Encryption and See What You’re Doing

By WashingtonsBlog
April 15, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Spy Agencies Are Intentionally Destroying Digital Security

Top computer and internet experts say that NSA spying breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.

Remember, American and British spy agencies have intentionally weakened security for many decades. And it’s getting worse and worse. For example, they plan to use automated programs to infect millions of computers.

Smart Phones Vulnerable to Spying

We documented in 2013 that smart phones are very vulnerable to spying:

The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.

As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android’s operating system … bugging three-quarters of the world’s smartphones. Google – or the NSA – can remotely turn on your phone’s camera and recorder at any time.

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, or other 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 NSA has gathered all of that cellphone location information.

“Encryption Doesn’t Matter In a World Where Anyone Can Plant Software On Your Phone and See What You’re Seeing”

John McAfee invented commercial antivirus software. He may be a controversial and eccentric figure … but the man knows his technology.

Earlier this month, McAfee told security expert Paul Asadoorian that encryption is dead.  Specifically, he said:

  • Every city in the country has 1 to 3 Stingray spy devices … Bigger cities like New York probably have 200 or 300
  • When you buy a Stingray, Harris Corporation makes you sign a contract keeping your Stingray secret (background here and here)
  • Stingray pushes automatic “updates” – really malicious software – onto your phone as soon as you come into range
  • The software – written by the largest software company in the world – allows people to turn on your phone, microphone and camera, and read everything you do and see everything on your screen
  • Encryption doesn’t matter in a world where anyone can plant software on your phone and see what you’re seeing.  Protecting transmission of information from one device to the other doesn’t matter anymore … they can see what you see on your device
  • There are many intrusions other than Stingray.   For example, everyone has a mobile phone or mobile device which has at least 10 apps which have permission to access camera and microphone
  • Bank of America’s online banking app requires you to accept microphones and cameras. McAfee called Bank of America and asked why they require microphones and cameras. They replied that – if you emptied all of the money in your account and said “it wasn’t me”, they could check, and then say:

Well, it certainly looks like you. And it certainly sounds like you.

  • In order to do that, B of A’s app keeps your microphone and camera on for a half hour after you’ve finished your banking
  • In addition, people can call you – and have you call them back – and plant software on your phone when you call them back