NSA surveillance

That Was The Week That Was in Doom June 16, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 16, 2013


Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

This Father’s Day edition caps a week that moved the story of Edward Snowden, and a host of stories examining his bona fides, and speculation about the provenance of the story worthy of a convention hall full of conspiracy theorists. A week in which we saw the collective IQ of Virginia dip a dozen points as Republicans nominated for Lieutenant Governor a man  live and direct from the ninth century, a process enabled by the apathy of Virginians . . . and, on the subject of apathy, Sibel Edmonds placed the blame for the NSA whistleblower flap squarely where it belongs.  and others speculate on whether the CIA is punching a hole in the NSA… And while we sleep, the Trans-Pacific partnership continues to be negotiated behind closed doors, safely out of sight of  mere Muppets,  interested citizens, and  other annoyances such as elected representatives.


E.W. Jackson runs for Lt. Governor in Virginia. 

Meet E.W. Jackson, the gift that just keeps on giving in Virginia politics:


E.W. Jackson burst on the national stage a couple of weeks ago when the republicans chose him to run as Lieutenant Governor in a secret seance held under Kate Obenshain’s skirts, and elected him in a burst of enthusiasm equivalent to when they load up the T-shirt cannon for the second time at a NASCAR event. It cleared out the entire trailer park. Given that only two states are choosing governors in an off year election, a disproportionate amount of attention will be paid to races in Virginia and New Jersey, so you’ll be hearing more from this quarter.. In Virginia, Koch Brothers franchisee Ken Cuccinelli is taking a break from harassing climate scientists, taking the part of natural gas drillers against Virginia citizens and defending himself and current Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound from ethics charges to get this Teanderthal selected as candidate for LG. Let’s hear from the Rev. himself:


In a video posted to YouTube last September, the minister and activist urged black Christians to reject the “ridiculous lies” of the “Democrat Party.”

“It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Democrat Party,” Jackson says in the clip. “They have insulted us, used us and manipulated us. They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies… They think we are stupid and that these lies will hold us captive while they violate everything we believe as Christians.

He continues, “The Democrat Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and the black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide.”

In reviewing the bidding, we find that this likely successor to the leadership post vacated by Michele Bachmann asserts not only  that Planned Parenthood has killed more blacks that the KKK and that BHO has a “Muslim perspective” on world events, but also, as Ron Popeil might say, “There’s More!!”

Earlier this week, Jackson was criticized after a post for the National Review revealed that his book also suggests yoga could lead to satanic possession.

“When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana,” Jackson wrote in his book. “The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.”

But his thoughts on yoga and evolution are merely some of Jackson’s more unconventional opinions. In the past, the candidate hasargued that recognition of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community “makes him feel ikky.”

So far, the candidate has refused to backtrack on any of his statements.

“I don’t have anything to rephrase or to apologize for,” Jackson said in May. “I would just say, people should not paint me as one-dimensional. I have a whole lot of concerns.”



A reasonable person might think that would have been enough for one week. But this is Virginia, and  reasonable people have left the building, witness Rev. Jackson’s candidacy. The good Rev. took it upon himself this Thursday to hold a rambling, barely coherent press conference in which he unburdened his soul and shared a host of youthful indiscretions, the better to inoculate himself against use by his political opponents or the “lame stream” press.

He referenced his bankruptcy proceedings, late payment of bills, drug use, employment irregularity and having taken classes at Harvard Divinity school, although Harvard has no record of that. His campaign advice goes, that is probably pretty good: inoculate yourself against the inevitable, attempt to disarm your opponents, and bury this information in a part of the electoral cycle where people not paying attention to statewide electoral races may likely forget come November. Effective advice, yet a bit cynical.   And as long as we’re being cynical, the selection of a black minister with extremely conservative views will certainly help to dilute the effectiveness of the black religious vote in the Commonwealth this November.


It remains to be seen what comes of this election, yet it is fair to say that the Cuccinelli–Jackson ticket is as extreme a Republican ticket as I have seen in my lifetime, and  Virginia is certainly capable of offering up some rare specimens indeed.  never forget that this is the state that houses “Pat” Robertson, who still continues to host a television program in which he offers up adventures from the land of Alzheimer’s, including suggesting that women who buy used clothing may be setting themselves up for demonic possession. We shit you not.


Do not sleep on this guy, as Charlie Pierce would say. Interestingly, if ominously, a favorability poll offered by local paper has people breaking about 50-50 for or against Rev. Jackson’s candidacy.  This again in Pat Robertson country. Early reports from the Monticello area have it that the body of Thomas Jefferson has spun dervishes enough to bore halfway to China.


NSA Leakery Leakery Dock


So much has been written about the Edward Snowden NSA whistleblower story, it is hard to know where to begin. The story moved last weekend. Since then, confusion has been sowed, strange bedfellows made, sides taken, and the narrative has switched from focus on the PRISM program to the bona fides of the leaker; is he a high school dropout, is he a traitor, why China as a destination, does he really eat the main course before his salad, and a continued effort by the mainstream media to reframe the issue and, in 43’s  inimitable phrase, “catapult the propaganda.”

Part of the real story of skewered by the fawning corporate press is that a half 1 million people, most of them private contractors, had the security clearances to be sifting through this information. And many of them work for foreign companies.

Washington’s Blog reports in 2008 that foreign companies have had key roles scooping up Americans’ communications for the NSA:

At least two foreign companies play key roles in processing the information.

Specifically, an Israeli company called Narus processes all of the information tapped by AT &T (AT & T taps, and gives to the NSA, copies of all phone calls it processes), and an Israeli company called Verint processes information tapped by Verizon (Verizon also taps, and gives to the NSA, all of its calls).

Business Insider notes today:

The newest information regarding the NSA domestic spying scandalraises an important question: If America’s tech giants didn’t ‘participate knowingly’ in the dragnet of electronic communication, how does the NSA get all of their data?

One theory: the NSA hired two secretive Israeli companies to wiretap the U.S. telecommunications network.

In April 2012 Wired’s James Bamford — author of the book “The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” — reported that two companies with extensive links to Israel’s intelligence service provided hardware and software the U.S. telecommunications network for the National Security Agency (NSA).

By doing so, this would imply, companies like Facebook and Google don’t have to explicitly provide the NSA with access to their servers because major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon already allows the U.S. signals intelligence agency to eavesdrop on all of their data anyway.

Who knows how this will play out? What if anybody knows the bona fides of whistleblowers, Sibel Edmonds certainly does.


America: A Deteriorating Nation of Denial & Apathy

One of the more thought provoking and sobering articles that sheds light and responsibility upon the political dimension of the problems we face, penned on the Boiling Frogs site by Sibel Edmonds. (A big tip o’ the Surly Crown of Thorns to Golden Oxen for posting it in the Forum.) The NSA whistleblower flap focuses the popular attention on the Eternal Security State, yet all that has been and will be done turns on policy. As does the imminent climate change/destruction we surely face, as our political institutions remain captive to the forces of capital and immune to public comment.

Most of us, especially the over-50 crowd, can see ourselves in Edmonds’ words:

Once upon a time, for over a decade, I was that relentless naïve sucker under the illusion of America the land of the pretty much free and the nation more-or-less governed by the Constitution.

Then I stopped-being that sucker.

That’s right. I stopped talking about that enemy sympathizer called the US Federal Courts. I ceased cheering for entities filing lawsuits, year after year, in pursuit of illusionary justice coming out of imaginary Halls of Justice.

Edmonds describes here quest for the real enemy. Here is what she found:

Sadly, the real answer is not what the bewildered and irate activists are willing to hear or acknowledge.

It is much easier to stare at the beasts in the forms of palaces and presidential mansions, carved majestic marble-granite courts, congresses or parliaments, media conglomerates.

.   .   .
I find myself standing alone when I now answer the questions directed at me following the endless atrocities and scandals. I am no longer the provider of the popular answer. My answer is one of the most unpopular, if not the most, in the eyes and ears of the public . . . there will be no hope of any meaningful action or changes so long as we stick with our national pride.

The enemy has been us; we the people. We the majority – in denial. Our national apathy. Our large majority’s denial, indifference; apathy. Apathy is a must ingredient for any police state, authoritarian regime, dictatorship, for abuses of power, for corruption, national atrocities, genocide … Some ingredients may be decreased, increased or substituted, but one key ingredient remains constant: Public Apathy.

Like a cat chasing its tail, like Don Quixote chasing the many windmills, we can target and point fingers at kings, presidents, statesmen, judges and media puppetries. In the end we’ll end up with our own tail, we’ll arrive at the windmill of our own. We will end up with us the people. And that is the ultimate enemy we must take on and out: Our very own denial and apathy.



Add Surveillance State

Regarding the unfolding NSA leak story, some informed insight: “We are dealing with a complex situation with fragmentary information being dribbled to us by the media out of context. Eventually we’ll presumably have a more complete understanding of the various facets involved.”

And this from AlterNet:

Americans may be upset about the latest revelations in the government’s ability to spy on citizens via their online lives, but no one should be surprised. We’ve underestimated and overlooked many key aspects of the government’s ability to track our lives for years.

The bottom line, which resonates most strongly among civil liberties advocates on the left and conservative libertarians on the right, is not just the loss of privacy but also the growing power of the state to target and oppress people who it judges to be critics and enemies. That list doesn’t just include foreign terrorists of the al-Qaeda mold, or even the Chinese government that has  stolen the most advanced U.S. weapon plans; it also includes domestic whistleblowers, protesters and journalists—all of whom have been  targeted by the Obama administration Justice Department.
See the incredibly sobering list here.




In a recent exchange on the Diner Forum, agelbert wrote:

Remember when Bush was in Iraq in secret and they announced all kinds of details of the Turkey dinner that Condolezza Rice was invited to at the RANCH just beforehand? I do. I went back and read how the Washington Post and the New York Times MADE SURE people read this inane bit of “”innocent” Thanksgiving food prattle. . .  Whenever something sounds like a non sequitur, they are confusing you to get your mind off something else. Just like the big flap about a “leak” now and Obama’s “endangered term” made me ask, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? They are trying to hide the fact that the empire is LOSING in SYRIA by making as much noise as possible in an attempt to blackmail Obama to start the war. I checked the news within ONE day of this “leak” shit. Low and behold, Assad is wiping the death squad strongholds out. Panic time for the MATRIX. Bring out another “scandal”.

If more people did the critical thinking leg work to see how the game is played, less people would be taken in by it.

And I replied:

The only way to decode the MSM is the way you watch a magician: watch what he is doing with his off or away hand. Consider everything you arre seeing a distraction, if you want to understand how the trick works. Trouble in the middle east? Play the runaway bride story hard. And the Natalie Holloway story got the better part of a year of play…

In Virginia, the administration of Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound and his AG made significant war on women last year, occasioning a lot of counter demonstration and activist effort. I counseled Contrary, “Wait for the other shoe to drop.” The other shoe (s) were plans to privatize road/tunnel construction projects and the Port of Virginia, plus the effort to end an existing ban on Uranium mining, essentially selling off the commons to commercial (and foreign) interests.

The politics of distraction.

The reason they do it, again and again, is because it works. While we are distracted with the NSA story, and the bona fides and Providence of Edward Snowden, a much bigger story is unfolded behind our backs, safely out of sight prying eyes or ears. And that is the Trans–Pacific partnership, now gestating in meeting rooms the same way an alien gestates inside an unsuspecting victim in a Ridley Scott movie.
It is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States and 10 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Japan is slated to join in July.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been under negotiation for 5 years.

Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not really mainly about trade.Of the TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only 5 deal with traditional trade issues. Most would set rules on non-trade matters that affect our daily lives: food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, job off-shoring, financial regulation, and more.
Our domestic policies would be required to comply with the TPP rules.

Here’s another issue you probably wouldn’t want to sleep on. Here is a good general purpose website to acquaint us with the issues.

These are the big issues for the week.  There are doubtless others, but sweet Jesus, enough is enough. Tracking this Snowden/NSA story is truly to walk through a hall of mirrors.

If you’ve read this far, you probably noticed that satire has outstripped reality. The foreign governments and press offices often mistake headlines from The Onion for the real thing. In a continuing effort to offer valuable public service, here’s a collection of stories Not from The Onion:

Until next week, then.


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