Search Mailing List Archives

Limit search to: Subject & Body Subject Author
Sort by: Reverse Sort
Limit to: All This Week Last Week This Month Last Month
Select Date Range     through    

[liberationtech] USA Today panel with 3 American Whistleblowers

seraphim at seraphim at
Thu Jun 20 02:57:24 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
> hacking?
> 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.
> yrs,
> --
> Shava Nerad
> shava23 at
> --
> Too many emails? Unsubscribe, change to digest, or change password by
> emailing moderator at companys at or changing your settings at

It seems important to protect Snowden, both out of gratitude, and out of
the need to incentivize others like him. At the moment it seems the battle
is for public perception. It is quite unhelpful for an ally with a large
store of credibility to start validating the use of the T-word.

The opening of any gap like this provides more attack surface for those
who for whatever reason are opposed to our cause. We saw the same thing
with the seizure by the establishment media on the unhelpful comments by
Snowden on Bradley Manning. Any sliver of ideological or practical
difference  stands to serve as grounds for differentiation, and will be
developed opportunistically into first a hairline crack, and then a rift,
eventually a chasm. If the comment gets legs Binney will, until the
Snowden moment has passed, be promoted as the "good" sort of
whistleblower, against whose example Snowden is discredited, at one and
the same time as Snowden serves the same purpose against Bradley Manning
(and without fear of contradiction). When both have been discredited
beyond hope of public rehabilitation, when the fire is put out and our
intolerable status quo is safe, all three will be discarded.

It seems that if a gap must be opened - if that is the only outlet for
strategic or practical disagreement open to Binney - there are
alternatives available to validating the use of the T-word. It is one
thing to frame the disagreement as constructive internal criticism, it is
another to frame it under the word "traitor," with all of the
nationalistic, legal and emotional baggage that carries.

In what meaningful way is the message you have addressed to me not more
properly addressed to William Binney? How much more divisive or
ostracizing is calling an ally a "traitor" than calling out an ally for
doing so? And in what meaningful way would so addressing it differentiate
your response to my post from the post itself?

I neither want people to despise Binney nor consider him inhuman. My
comment is a register of my disappointment in his comments, on account of
the fact that I have found much to admire in what he says in the past. In
the same way as I might be disappointed in Snowden for resurrecting
Bradley Manning only to see him dragged through the mud again, along with
his supporters. My support for either of these people is not conditional
on my criticism of them. I would hope Binney would amend his speech and
pursue other means of internal criticism. That is assuming your best case

If you are just calling out the centrality of ad hominem elements to my
post, I take that point, and understand that the point can be made without
that. But if the purpose of your response is to censure comments which do
not appropriately take into account our diverse backgrounds and ideologies
and which compromise our shared goals and alliances, I share your concerns
and that is where my post came from.

More information about the liberationtech mailing list