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[liberationtech] Perspective/History (was: Re: Bill Binney, Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras on Democracy Now about NSA)

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Sat Apr 21 10:19:15 PDT 2012

Not necessarily specifically defending Obama, but is there really any US administration under which we can document that domestic surveillance was curtailed significantly?  

It seems in my lifetime this has been a half-century losing battle, and I was raised on family adventure tales (some involving blood and fire, some just political and Machiavellian) of the law enforcement, Pinkerton, press, and political machine grinders of labor politics in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Anyone remember Eugene Debs and the Occupy Railway movement? ;) They had problems with surveillance too.  The tech just changes, the laws lag (and were lagging even then, in understanding new communications tech impacts like telegraph, telephone, popular establishment of fee-free public libraries [Carnegie's real innovation], and efficient mail with a higher dispersion of literate citizenry).  

Debs and the Pullman Strike were established on the basis of "blogs" - newsletters cheaply produced and exchanged among trades union leaders who had previously been isolated in silos, who created a zine-network, and realized a common interest across the various trades unions which had been set up by management in a zero-sum game environment, pitted against one another.

By the time the strike came, so much common ground had been built in principle though communications in these new channels and meetings that resulted, that Debs was merely a spokesperson for a principled, well-defined position.

The government tried to throw Debs and some other leaders in jail to break the strike, but channels had been so well established - in an anarchic structure resistant to disruption exactly of this sort - that the confused feds found that the Arab Spring, er, townships, er, civil right march, er... well you get the idea...

Plus ça change,...

We tend to forget that the *organizing* tech, and the surveillance tech, is largely human.

It is only opportunistically implemented and amplified through computers.  Democracy or not, this is still a game of thrones.  It is still about power, control, freedom, fear, and all those things that make the human heart and amygdala thrum, and make us lose sleep, and that young people find passions to die for.

So much, just in a tiny flake of silicon.


On Apr 21, 2012, at 8:59 AM, "Samujjal (Shayan) Purkayastha " <me at> wrote:

> National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. [snip]
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