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[liberationtech] liberationtech Digest, Vol 158, Issue 5

Catherine Fitzpatrick catfitz at
Sun Jun 9 11:24:07 PDT 2013

Re:  "Message: 41
Date: Sun, 9 Jun 2013 11:49:57 -0400
From: Katrin Verclas <katrin at>
To: liberationtech <liberationtech at>
Cc: liberationtech <liberationtech at>
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret
    tool to    track global surveillance data
Message-ID: <3F930E53-4B6C-44AB-A29D-171741461D1B at>
Content-Type: text/plain;    charset=us-ascii

 on Nadim's comment who is not always that civil either. If you notice 
who speaks on this list- it's geeky men. And not just speak but flame at
 times and engage in silly meta discussions best filtered out. 

 discourse on this list, in general, does not encourage truly thoughtful
 discussion nor does it invite diverse voices. That might be lost on 
people like RK but it's not lost on the many "others" here who are not 
speaking.  Liberation isn't just for and by the few white men spouting 
off here more often than not. Might be worth keeping in mind when 

Oh, come now Katrin. Diversity isn't just about whether women get to speak, or people of colour get to speak, against rude white male geeks. It's about diversity of opinion -- of the sort that you have absolutely no patience for yourself as I well know, and label as "trolling" at the first opportunity.

Let me give you an example of real diversity of opinion.

This entire fake and contrived horror over PRISM is a cunningly-designed distraction by Glenn Greenwald from the Manning case. He couldn't attract enough public opinion in support of Manning even with his most virulent columns; he couldn't get even the major left-leaning human rights groups like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch to "adopt" Manning as a "prisoner of conscience" (because he committed real crimes and isn't a human rights whistleblower or free-speech victim); he couldn't even get major mainstream media to bite on his endless provocations. So he planned this entire caper with Spencer Ackerman, who seems to have arrived "just in time" at the Guardian for this big story, to make it look like "the real problem" is the scanning of us all by "Yes We Scan" Obama, and not anarchists who steal data to bring down states they don't like -- don't like even more than real authoritarian states like Russia and China. Oh, and for extra bonus,
 Glenn's "Big Story" coincides perfect with the Chinese-American summit, where the issue is Chinese hacking -- and distracts from *that* worse crime, too. Mission Accomplished! Once again, the most liberal president in the history of the world is the problem (or his bad managers), and not anarchists trying to take advantage of his weaknesses.

All of you who are clutching your pearls about PRISM and even prepared to sneer a little finally at Big IT were completely missing in action when your friends Big IT first met in a secret dinner in Silicon Valley before Obama's first election to make the basic compact ("back Obama and his way of doing things in the election and Obama will get rid of SOPA and CISPA for you"). When Obama for America, the unaccountable and secretive vehicle that has now morphed into Organizing for America with all your data was busy scraping social media data and drilling it to win the election, you didn't complain, you thought it was cool:

So now, *gasp* *the horrah* you are freaked by a program that Wired reported on more than a year ago.It's a program that scans everything online -- you know, like Google scans your gmail and searches for content to serve you ads? -- and looks for patterns that spell "terrorism". This is a machine, not a human with human intelligence reading your mail, so you can't accuse it of violating your privacy. When a pattern matches like "telephone call to the Islamic Jihad Union in Turkey," then a warrant is obtained to go forward. Then a human reads your correspondence.

Now, to be sure, it's fine for people to have their civil rights concerns about FISA and national security letters and all the rest. But then, those of you who shriek about those things don't have good, balanced answers for the challenges we face -- instead, you tend to minimize or even deny the existence of terrorism in the world and real enemies of America that really do not have a case (er, fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan against terrorists and militants who themselves did the lion's share of killing of civilians, their fellow Muslims, would not be that case). You would never meet a government surveillance program you'd like anyway. You aren't good judges of this. If it were up to you, you'd make darknets -- and already do -- to conceal all kinds of criminal activity from piracy to drug-smuggling to child pornography and minimize all of these crimes and their prosecution in the name of "liberation".

You should have cared more at the get-go about all these companies taking, storing and exploiting your data in the first place. But you barely cared because your copyleftist doctrine of "information wants to be free" focused on the "liberation" of copyrighted content first and foremost, anything else a distant second. The main thing was to upload everything for free and make your Creative Communism, right? So here we all are now.

The US government, whatever its flaws, is a liberal democratic state that you can challenge through three branches of government, the media, and civil society. You can't do that with Google or Facebook, that acts arbitrarily, i.e. to close G+ or FB accounts for "speech offenses" and thus ruins your access to all Google products or your content on FB. That sort of thing never bothers you. Myopically, you see the US as the worst criminal in the world merely because you know more about it. You support WikiLeaks, even though it never really showed any actual war crimes by the US and such claims are largely a distraction from the kind of anarcho-communist rule we'd get if these people were in power -- which they are more and more.

"Progressives" claim there was never any harm from WikiLeaks. I know for a fact that there was, but the victims don't wish to paint further targets on their backs and invite more harm.

With PRISM, Greenwald has not been able to point to a single case of harm -- a wrongful arrest, a wrongful surveillance of an innocent dissident. Meanwhile, this same administration is rightly being questioned over real troublesome cases of monitoring the AP quite apart from PRISM, with human intention, and harassing conservatives through the IRS, with human, not machine scans. These are much greater threats to civil society than a program that has machines tapping meta-data to find patterns for terrorism -- which in fact it isn't very good at stopping, as we can see from the Boston Marathon Bombing, when every civil liberties consideration was properly taken into account for the Tsarnaevs and they were not apprehended in time.

Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
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