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[liberationtech] NYTimes and Guardian on NSA

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Thu Sep 5 17:00:37 PDT 2013

Part of the tone is also adopted in order to wake the sleeping baby
anti-intellectual giants either side of the pond.  The smart magazines can
publish smart crypto articles, but mass market newspapers have to bring
their audiences along, even the Times and Guardian.

Very few stories even bother to explain what the NSA does or what its
function in government is, which actually rather stuns me, because I find
that when I ask the general public that question I find that most of them
don't know what the NSA does for the government.  Most of them assume it
works for the executive branch, but for the DOJ as part of the whole
civilian/State/FBI sort of DHS bits, because those lines are so muddied.
 (And yes, I am conflating Justice and State on purpose there because it's
been done in conversation with The (Wo)Man on the Street.).

People don't know basic civics.  At all.  If you tell them they should be
upset because the military is conducting domestic surveillance, they look
at you like "what?"  "East Germany?"  you say.  "Stasi?" you say.  Blank
looks.  No history.  Those who do not learn from history, etc.

If you tell them that they should be upset because the president
essentially struck down posse comitatus in May, they won't know what you
are talking about, but if you say, "Basically, if a local SWAT team decides
they need backup in some kind of emergency situation and they can't get
hold of the governor to call for National Guard?  They can call a local
military airbase for an airstrike if they want to."   Then the people will
decide you are cold stoned mad and a total tin hat.  "Sherman?"  you say.
 And if they're from the south, they might go off in a rant, but they still
won't relate it to current affairs or do anything.  But that is literally
what the law says in the US now.  That's a bit beyond elementary civics,
but it's a bit beyond what the press is reporting on here too.  Because the
press doesn't really have much literacy in elementary civics or history
either.  They seem to be drawing mostly on marcom majors these days.

This is what the "attention economy" has done to us.  Our culture is a
deep, nutrient rich ocean, full of wonders and cthonic monsters that can
eat us.  And we all surf.  Nothing below the surf-ace is important anymore.


On Sep 5, 2013 3:31 PM, "Richard Brooks" <rrb at> wrote:

> Latest articles:
> I find most of this (if not all) silly. They seem shocked that the
> NSA does cryptanalysis. It would be nice if the newspapers had
> people with some knowledge of the domain writing articles.
> --
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