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[liberationtech] USA Today panel with 3 American Whistleblowers

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Thu Jun 20 07:56:55 PDT 2013

On Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 5:57 AM, <seraphim at> wrote:

> 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
> scenario.
> 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.
My disappointment is when people do not read for context and content, IMO,
but seem to judge according to what they perceive is a person's role or
background in a more cartoon-y way.

Here is Binney's more full quotes:

Q: So Snowden did the right thing?

Binney: Yes, I think he did.


Q: There's a question being debated whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor.

Binney: Certainly he performed a really great public service to begin with
by exposing these programs and making the government in a sense publicly
accountable for what they're doing. At least now they are going to have
some kind of open discussion like that.

But now he is starting to talk about things like the government hacking
into China and all this kind of thing. He is going a little bit too far. I
don't think he had access to that program. But somebody talked to him about
it, and so he said, from what I have read, anyway, he said that somebody, a
reliable source, told him that the U.S. government is hacking into all
these countries. But that's not a public service, and now he is going a
little beyond public service.

So he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor.

Binney states his opinion up front in the interview.  Snowden did the right
thing in bringing out the leak.

Binney is doing risk analysis here, in my opinion, in the second quote.
 He's being -- according to the military term of art as I understand the
jargon -- a dumbass.

I am a security analyst, in part.  So is Binney.  What you are doing, if I
may speculate, is mistaking Binney's analysis of his former organization''s
assessment of Binney for his personal opinion *which he strongly states*
only a few paragraphs earlier.  Yet, your feelings about the military --
and Binney's association with it -- color your opinion of the man such that
you can't see that context as anything but him condemning Snowden

As a person with good relations with many people in law enforcement and the
military -- and family in the military -- my reading of his comments has a
completely different color and tone.  I see him as feeling sadness and
pity.  They are even saying, modestly, that they failed to bring this to
the front and that that may have inspired Snowden's bolder moves -- but I
wonder if they are feeling sadder that his more unrestrained manner is
likely to get him, also, into a hot war, hot water -- and possibly
discredited in some heated way.

I remember hearing how activists were treated in labor movement from the
40s and 50s, and I remember myself the civil rights movement.  They were

People lost jobs and became largely unemployable. Character was destroyed
-- people were accused of the most heinous inappropriate things and huge
violations of personal privacy were broadcast (true and fabricated).  And,
of course, people were killed.  This isn't overly dramatic, it happened.  I
won't speculate whether they were killed by the government, the
government's friends, or by people whipped up by government propaganda --
they still ended up DEAD. This happens in many countries around the world
today.  How much of it still happens around the US is debatable. I can
certainly tell you that if you speak out about NSA issues and Wikileaks, as
one person on this list has, it becomes problematic to enter this country,
as a US citizen, through our airports.  This is documented in the press,
and bothers far too few people.

These are not games we are playing, that we need to gossip about one
another.  The only strength of a nonviolent movement is communication, and
unity of purpose -- eyes on a prize.  Otherwise,what we say and how we say
it will be watched for cracks and fissures, and exploited to break us into
a thousand shards.

We need to start assuming that there are social engineers as well as
hackers in our ranks, agents provocateurs seeding dissent.  So in this war
of ideas, as far as I am concerned, if you aren't mourning, you aren't
organizing, I'm asking which side you are on.

And that's a risk assessment too.  I don't feel it's fair to give any
particular person slack.  At some point, we have to start treating this as
a resistance movement, with due respect.  Liberation, through evolution, I
still have some hope...

And just as Binney and they have respect and all,for this country, and MLK
also -- I am aiming for the Beloved Community, but we are not there yet.
 It's a system in dynamic struggle with itself, and that's how this country
was designed to be from its inception.

But at some point, honestly, back maybe in the 60s, or after Watergate,
intellectuals and liberals and lefties decided that all these Establishment
(and especially the low paying) jobs were totally un-cool, and left them to
the right, conservative, and 3-month-attention-span trogs.  So after a
couple generations, the military, finance, civil service, politics -- whole
swaths of civil society in this country are wastelands of participation by
significant liberal post-conventional leadership.  "The center can not
hold," and it has all moved right -- have you noticed? :)

And in my opinion, that's how America now has the government she deserves
after 50-odd years. None of our issues will be ameliorated here unless we
ameliorate this.

I come from a family that didn't buy into this notion, and we have liberals
in the military, for example, on the assumption that you need people of a
liberal bent in military leadership -- steward leadership -- to moderate
decisions in time of peace or war.  To damp casus belli.  To sanity check
programs as they are "run up the flagpole."  If you leave the military to
the hawks, isn't that abandoning your society to war?  My son is in Army
ROTC in a military academy.  He enjoys explaining to his officers how it is
that a philosophical anarchist is better suited to operate in fog-of-war
conditions.  It makes the junior officers' heads explode, and you might
feel reassured -- his senior officers don't find it disturbing at all.

There are a lot of things to love about this country if you can appreciate
it for being quite as complicated and anomalous as it really is -- and work
to make it better. We are only 200 years old, a blip on the chart of human
history, and we haven't started to get things right.  Technology has
honestly put more pressure on us (globally) during that time than I think
the species can properly bear.  So we are the pressure-cooker social
experiment in the pressure-cooker technological experiment of a species
bent on a race between self-descruction and transcendence.  If you look at
human history, the perception is that race has been going on forever..

And the struggle to stay unified while working on all this has also been a
difficult problem -- the perception has been, forever.  But the taboo is,
you shouldn't speak of it.  And I'm sorry to do so, but sometimes, it's

But I have to say, modern science has given self-destruction a real boost.
 And the time-compression effect has changed all the rules.  So we need to
work harder and with better coordination -- and that's why the Internet
might be critical.

If we can make the Internet about more than kittens and more kittens,
without it being only Evgeny's Panopticon of Punishments.  (Not that this
is Evgeny's wish!  But I'm sure Evgeny is feeling sad and just a bit smug
this past week or so...)

I go to young digital natives in this country and tell them, they have to
leave the comfort of their ergonomic chairs and go to meetings in their
communities because all politics is local if they want to change the world
and they tell me "No, everything will be online, all I'll have to do is
click buttons at my friends!"  They literally seem unable to comprehend
that the courts, the Congress, the political parties that spend decades in
their parliamentary machines grooming the candidates that their two second
vote referendum ratifies (and justly they feel their vote barely or doesn't
count) -- all these things are in meatspace, but are influenceable just by
showing up.  But they would rather *watch* Game of Thrones than go out and
fight dragons in the real world.

I have some ideas about that, too, and for those of you who'll be at CFP in
DC next week, please come talk to me about them.  I've rattled on enough
for now...


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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