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[liberationtech] USA Today panel with 3 American Whistleblowers

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Wed Jun 19 23:36:03 PDT 2013

On Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 10:53 PM, <seraphim at> wrote:

> I think it is bad form of Binney to break the line. It is clearly of
> exceeding importance to the world public to know that the United States is
> escalating the arms race in offensive state hacking.

What makes you think that the US is escalating the arms race in state

I am not trying to defend it specifically, I am just saying -- hacking is
ongoing.  I'm amazed you have metrics!  Please share them.

> Sadly this is in line with Binney's stated reasons for dissident speech in
> recent years. He had no problem with NSA's aspiration to global network
> omniscience, so long as it respected the privacy of Americans. So he is
> against constitutional violations or FISA hitches, but the rogue's gallery
> of US transgressions over the last century are ok with him.

In the work of liberation, we must negotiate across the table with all
kinds of people, not just people we agree with on all counts, and not just
people we understand in all ways.

And we often work as allies with people who we do not agree with or
understand, but who share common goals.  We need to pick our battles, or we
will founder.

MLK and many other people have said, "Keep your eyes on the prize, move on."

Binney was an officer in the US military, in which he served with
distinction for thirty years.

I think you don't understand what that means.  It means he took oaths to
defend the US (and take offensive roles against anyone he was told was her
enemy as part of the MI service) and did so faithfully for the entirety of
his adult life.

And then, as officers are told sometimes they must do, he was given an
order contrary to the Constitution which he was sworn to uphold, prior to
the individual order he was given.  So he made a choice out of honor.

Binney is not a pacifist, and your idea of who he should be, because he
believes in civil liberties, will not make him a pacifist.  It will not
make him a person who sees his role of 30 years in the US military as a
waste or wrong or dishonorable.

Are you thinking of him as a human being?  It is, perhaps, bad form,
considering his contribution to this struggle, for you to break the line
and snipe at him -- oddly considering what you are sniping at him for...
 Obviously you do not identify him as part of this struggle, but as Other,
non-human, enemy.  That makes you the militant in this conversation, too,
according to what my father taught me about formal nonviolence theory.
 Please try to draw Binney back into the circle of people you consider to
be fully human, and perhaps we can start this conversation again?

Binney sacrificed his career, his friends, and his reputation and a great
deal more to bring us a message out of honor to his country and the
Constitution, not because he hated the military or the US, but because he
loves this country.  You might not understand that, but I hope you can
honor the differences in the community of people who work together with
similar ends in mind.

But I will still posit (perhaps generously) that Binney might be thinking
that Snowden is being a complete idiot and hoisting his own petard by
talking without discipline because for God sake I think Snowden may have
just signed his own warrant.  But we'll see what comes of it.  Who knows,
maybe nothing.  Or maybe Ron Paul is more on top of things than I hope he
is, as flamboyant as he can be.

When I say that I am sad because I am worried about Edward Snowden.

But when you criticize Binney, I think you are not sad, but want people to
dislike or despise him.  If that's not the case, maybe you need to back
down your language.  But if it is the case, then why is it that people who
are working toward the same causes need to do this sort of thing?

It's not even to pick on you particularly, but I see this so often.  It's
chronic.  The activist community comes under stress, and we act out, we
gossip, we fracture under strain.

We eat our young, we alienate potential allies, and we self-destruct (as
perhaps young Snowden just did) because we are often lacking in real
training and discipline -- if we are disciplined in security we are not
disciplined in words or vice versa, often enough, and we often fail to
properly distribute that load organizationally, for example.

Sometimes breaking the line is a smackdown, sometimes it's reformation, and
yes, sometimes it's just a cry of frustration.  But we are in this line of
work each for our own reasons, and our vocations -- our callings to the
work -- differ.  It's healthy to respect that, and that can be very hard if
the reason you are called to the work is your fury with others who are
called to the same work.  Activists burn out early if they don't balance
these things.


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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