Signifying Nothing 123


empire

 

The image was the thing.  Those serried American flags beneath their burnished and distinctly imperial eagles.  Obama’s speech on the NSA was devoid of meaningful content.  The threats against Snowden and the references to America’s right to spy on its potential enemies – which seemed to mean everybody – were obviously heartfelt.  The “restrictions” on the NSA were devoid of intent, mumbled and hedged around.  Actually you don’t have to analyse what he said.  The picture says it all.

Reading the acres of media comment devoted to this exercise in changing nothing, it does seem that the task I face in explaining things is easier than I expected.  Nobody seems actually to be fooled.  You have the fascistic tendency – a majority – arguing that Obama is right, and the lesson of 9/11 is that safety can only lie in massive government intrusion into all human interaction all of the time.  Then you have the libertarian tendency, like me, who believe that nobody should be targeted until they have actually done something wrong, and the idea of continual surveillance of entirely innocent people just in case someone somewhere is contemplating doing something they shouldn’t, is terrifying.  What we don’t have much of is people pretending that Obama is actually doing something to curtail the surveillance state.

When Obama failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act against torture and extraordinary rendition, and sanctioned the killing of thousands through drone strikes, for a long time I kept meeting Americans who claimed he was not a neo-con really, but rather playing a subtle game for liberalism to win in the long term.  I don’t know anybody who believes that now, and nobody seems to be arguing it today. Obama is now an open vicious neo-con.  The picture says it all.

Some of it was almost amusing.  Obama plainly said that America would not spy on allied leaders, but reserved the right to spy on every other person in any foreign country.  I found the idea that every German may be spied on except Angela Merkel distinctly amusing.  Less amusing is the idea that the secret courts which are supposed to be a check on the NSA – with their entirely pro-government judges – would be “improved” by the appointment of a secret advocate to argue the case for privacy, without the subjects of the cases having any contact with their advocate or even being aware the case is going on.

Secret Courts are an increasing feature of life in the dog days of western world power.  In the UK we have already for many years had the situation where people may face criminal trials without being allowed to see the intelligence based “evidence” against them – often gained from torture of third parties abroad – and are “represented” by government appointed cleared – i.e. pro-security service – lawyers who are not allowed to tell their clients what the evidence is against them.  We recently have the institution of entirely secret criminal courts in which the entire proceedings are closed.  As Julian Assange pointed out on CNN, even the carefully selected secret court in the USA has found against the NSA on a number of occasions.  Obama’s extraordinary claim that their had been no abuse by the NSA was a straightforward example of the “Big lie” technique.  Again, that picture explains it all.

The suggestion that data be held not by the NSA but by a third party which will be another government institution is risible.  If they insist it is held, I vote Glenn Greenwald holds it.  After a crime has been committed, I have no difficulty with the authorities approaching the communications providers for targeted information which helps the investigation.  The deliberate conflation of that idea with permanent mass surveillance is dishonest – and the constant references to 9/11 to justify any intrusion are chilling.

Actually, what worried me most about the speech was the thought that the 9/11 excuse must be wearing thin, and that we are only seven years away from starting to have voters who weren’t even born at the time.  All those who make an extremely fat living from the security state, or who benefit in other ways economically from the docility of a population quiescent through the manipulation of fear, will start shortly to have need of a new and more urgent bogeyman.  That really will start to make the world a more dangerous place – and the danger comes from those claiming to protect us.

Look at the picture.


123 thoughts on “Signifying Nothing

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  • Villager

    Clark: “I find you dishonest, Habbabkuk.”

    And I Clark, find you, this evening, without grace (one of the rarest ‘commodities’ in the World).

    You and others often accuse Habbabkuk for not stating his views. When he just did so, in an entirely civil manner, and at your request, you turn around and tell him “you need to get in earlier” (who in hell are you to instruct him or anyone else here what to do?), and accuse him of being dishonest. Forgive me, but you sound like you are bent on creating conflict. Just look at the way you behave, just because he disagrees with Craig here!?

    Its precisely because of these type of *reactions* that I would not trust ‘revolutionaries’ like you, even if I were to disagree philosophically with Habby.

    I agree with Richard above:

    “I go further – in principle, I think everyone should have an inalienable right to privacy of communications, and that our personal devices should be legally treated as the extension of our brains* that they are – and thus not subject to examination.”

    (* mischievous as they are)

    Mankind has taken a wrong turn and is using technology for destruction as much as it is using it for building convenience and comfort. Earth’s first global telephone system (the internet) need not become a global camera-recorder for all our communications. While our leaders claim they are creating security, they are actually doing the exact opposite and fanning man’s primal insecurity.

    For ‘modern’ man, we are actually quite medieval and unenlightened. Freedom is a psychological state. It is at the beginning, not something to be strived for as an end. And here’s something new for you: the word ‘free’ is entirely related to the word ‘friend’, etymologically speaking. And they are both related to the much misused word “L O V E”. Check this out: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=free

    Lighten-up, while remaining serious about our Earth and the state of humanity, or be part of the wave of destruction. Which is also why I find Mary’s constant whining so utterly infantile and worthless. Unless she is deluded, she surely recognises her powerlessness deep down and therefore resorts to accusations of trolls. Other psychotics join in while Habbabkuk remains dignified, as do ESLO and RD. I’m sure they want to see change in the World but not by *revolutionaries* like you and Mary. Yes Craig IS as Habby said of a different calibre. As Craig said, there may not be justice in this World, but there is Truth.

    We are a Type Zero Global Civilisation–do you want to get to base one? There is no point in critiquing world events if you are unwilling to, in the same movement, observe yourself inwardly. And then respond “in the spirit of the *discussion*”, not with cries of trolls.

    And Craig, the image is not the thing. A picture of a pizza is not food, not a pizza. The ‘Thing’ is much deeper–its in our conscience and Human Consciousness and as you well know, its a messy one, very messy.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, Habbabkuk made a blatant attempt to wreck this thread, and has previously been banned for gross insults, repeatedly deleted by Craig for questioning whether someone was Jewish, and caught sock puppeteering anti-Jewish jokes to an Israeli. You can continue to support Habbabkuk, but you’ll lose some respect with me.

    I thought you’d share distaste for mass surveillance. I know you object to states that do or have done this. You respect Orwell.

  • Resident Dissident

    Clark

    I don’t recognise the offences you attribute to Habbakkuk – when and if I disagree with Habba (e.g I dislike many of the Tory politicians he supports) I am happy to say so) I am more than happy to say so – such things are only healthy features of the western democracies that we both favour)

    “I thought you’d share distaste for mass surveillance. ”

    That is exactly what I said “I share his distaste for mass surveillance – but I have no problem in targeting surveillance on those who have undertaken activities that arouse suspicion”. Please don’t twist my words.

    Do you really believe that the police should not be able to watch people where they have specific intelligence that they may become engaged in a criminal act? Waiting until they have actually done so would be rather too late to prevent the crime wouldn’t it?

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I see you’re blaming Snowden along with Assange now, rather than Russia and the US. What power do these individuals have in comparison with the world’s two greatest superpowers? Are you likely to start calling Craig a traitor?

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I do not mean to twist your words, nor do I see that I’ve done so. You, I, and Craig share distaste for mass surveillance. It’s the tool of totalitarianism. I expect that we all three agree about that.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, the offences I attribute to Habbabkuk are simply facts, recorded on the comment pages and in the server logs. I strongly suggest you rid yourself of this troll.

  • Ex Pat

    US EMPIRE DOWNFALL ; )

    JOHAN GALTUNG ON ‘PEOPLE POWER’ AND THE FALL OF THE OTHER EVIL EMPIRE

    EAST GERMANY REBELS –

    Johan Galtung gave twenty five talks to East German churches on peace-by-peaceful-means. “At one the priest asked, ‘do you know that forty percent of the congregation tonight will be Stasis?’ If there is anybody who needs this knowledge it is Stasis. It would be highly un-Samaritan, un-Christian to keep it away from them,” said Galtung. HA!

    Soviet rule in Eastern Europe collapsed first in Poland. The protests spread to East Germany when a peaceful crowd of 50,000 gathered coming out of five churches in Leipzig on 9 October 1989.

    “The Russian military commander was asked what to do. ‘Shoot those who are being violent,’ was the answer. ‘There is nobody violent,’ came the reply. Ah-ha – starts getting serious!”

    AHEM ! – “If you use violence at someone very very clever at violence and much better equipped than you are it is not necessarily a sign of immorality. It could also be a sign of stupidity. Or both. These two categories don’t exclude each other.” @6.28

    “They woke up the Soviet ambassador that night. The Soviet ambassador woke Gorbachev. Who said ‘We will not interfere.'” NOT A WORD ABOUT THIS DRAMA IN THE WESTERN PRESS !!!

    “Not reported in the western media and I can give you one reason why. It looks suspiciously like the end of the Cold War was produced by the common people in the wrong town in the wrong country in the wrong block.”

    NOT the version you heard from the USUK MSM. What a surprise, etc. Not! –

    “It is produced by US. By Reagan. By being strong.” ER, No it wasn’t! “It was not Reagan’s strength that impressed them in the slightest.”

    – ‘Celebrating Peace on Johan Galtung’s 80th birthday at Voksenkollen’ – Part 5

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIbtvD83EWE#t=04m50s

    PETER DALE SCOTT

    “Spreading the truth is the first task.” – Peter Dale Scott.

    Scott suggested that street protests, with a militarised police force and ‘kettling’, or even three day detention of protesters, would be to ‘fight the last war’.

    “The first step is to understand and to expose the ‘deep politics’ that have brought us here. The Kennedy assassination, Watergate, 911 were crimes that need to be understood and exposed. The truth is not a speedy weapon of retribution. But it is the strongest weapon we possess.”

    – Peter Dale Scott – City Lights bookstore, San Francisco, December 1, 2010

    ‘American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA’s Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan’, by Peter Dale Scott – _Lots_ of ‘deep politics’ exposed _and_ made clear – a far harder job! ; ) –

    http://www.peterdalescott.net/q.html

    DOWNFALL

    ‘Downfall’ of a US fascist Empire apparatchik, delightfully hoist on his own security surveillance state petard.

    And it couldn’t happen to a nicer illegal war, murder, torture-to-death, genocide, death squad implementing war criminal.

    Hard luck pal. Let the door hit you on the way out!

    – ‘Downfall!’ – “I should have listened to Julian Assange” – ‘Cypherpunks’ ad video –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMALsxxL6mI

    More – Can the Wikileaks-aided ‘Downfall’ of the USUK Elite War Criminals be long now? – Iron cross – with oak leaf clusters – in taking the mickey out of Das Reich of Wome on the Potomac – and Thames! –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_k7WPv2EvY

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I agree with investigation of suspected crime, with warrants issued by a judiciary who must be persuaded by evidence submitted. I thought this was the normal, generally accepted standard in a decent society.

    Habbabkuk sees no problem with this totalitarian tool, and would rather we discussed something else, too. I hope you can see that, whatever your differences with me, Habbabkuk is something else entirely.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I think you don’t like the Right very much. Neither do I, but the thing I respect them for is that they do defend those rights that support personal autonomy; liberty, self-reliance, privacy, etc.

    When you get rightists who support massive state power over the individual, be warned.

  • Daniel Rich

    Q: The rule I exercise is that I cannot say anything good about the recently departed then I will not say anything at all – I would recommend others to follow suit.

    R: Plantation ancestry or was it the big boats, bwana? I, for one, say whatever I Want, when I want to say it and I sincerely hope everyone else says what’s on his/her heart, without the ff-ing KaPos running the show.

  • Mary

    Take note that I last posted at 6.07pm yesterday on the NSA fantasies to kill Edward Snowden.

    Exchanges continued between Clark and two of the trolls throughout the evening and then at 11.46pm the third returns out of the blue to leave some nasty slime* about me completely out of any context. It followed no previous exchange. The post did contain a defence of the other trolls.

    *‘Lighten-up, while remaining serious about our Earth and the state of humanity, or be part of the wave of destruction. Which is also why I find Mary’s constant whining so utterly infantile and worthless. Unless she is deluded, she surely recognises her powerlessness deep down and therefore resorts to accusations of trolls. Other psychotics join in while Habbabkuk remains dignified, as do ESLO and RD. I’m sure they want to see change in the World but not by *revolutionaries* like you and Mary. Yes Craig IS as Habby said of a different calibre. As Craig said, there may not be justice in this World, but there is Truth.’

    If that is not trolling, then what?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    @ Resident Dissident

    “I don’t think it was wise of Habba to make a pre-emptive strike on behalf of Lord McAlpine”
    ________________

    Well, that may be right, but my post was not entirely redundant, in that

    1/. it certainly seems to have choked off possible post-mortem gloating and floods of abuse (as you correctly pointed out, previous ‘form’ and all that…)

    2/. it occasioned a number of ‘responses’ (in particular from Clark) which serve as a useful reminder of the mindset of a number of the ‘regulars’ here (eg, “made a blatant attempt to wreck this thread”, “troll(s)”, etc. It’s important to note that two of the most worrying features of that mindset are the sheer lack of proportion demonstrated in respect of people in the public sphere, policies and, for that matter, dissident posters here, and a rather (let us say) cavalier regard for the facts (“repeatedly deleted by Craig” as a very minor example…).

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Clark recommends to Resident Dissident :

    “I strongly suggest you rid yourself of this troll.”

    _______________

    “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Re surveillance (mass or otherwise):

    Any ideas on how the authorities should go about nipping terrorist and criminal intentions in the bud without resorting to surveillance?

    And if it is admitted that targeted surveillance is both admissible and necessary in the interests of public safety, how and on what practical basis should the authorities go about determining who is be targeted?

    Ideas welcome as always.

  • Resident Dissident

    @DR

    “R: Plantation ancestry or was it the big boats, bwana?”

    If this doesn’t convince anyone as to the true nature of DR I don’t suppose anything will.

    @Clark

    Read Habba more carefully he didn’t call for mass surveillance – he just said targeted surveillance was an appropriate response to 9/11 etc.

    I agree with what you say re surveillance being done based on warrants to investigate “suspected” crimes – the real question is what constitutes suspicion – does buying a large quantity of fertiliser constitute a suspected crime, does a visit to a terrorist training camp, does involvement in group which espouses terrorism or supports terrorist activitie, is conspiracy a suspected crime. The line has to be drawn somewhere – and I suspect changes in the world means that it changes with time and technology.

    Habba isn’t mine to get rid of – troll or otherwise. We are both individuals and it is just insulting to infer that neither of us can think for ourselves or are incapable of acting on our own behalf as so many here do.

    Re the Right – it is one of the strengths of democracy that we can listen and enter into a dialectic with people with whom we disagree

    What is going on in Russia is far worse than what is happening in the West – Snowden and Assange have taken that particular shilling and chose to remain silent.

  • Herbie

    habby asks:

    “Any ideas on how the authorities should go about nipping terrorist and criminal intentions in the bud without resorting to surveillance?”

    Stop funding them in the first place.

  • Resident Dissident

    @DR

    I, for one, say whatever I Want, when I want to say it and I sincerely hope everyone else says what’s on his/her heart, without the ff-ing KaPos running the show.

    and no one said you couldn’t – I am also assuming that you have the ability to show self restraint and good taste I would again recommend that you use it. If not you have my sympathies.

  • Resident Dissident

    Why Americans must see ‘When I Saw You’.

    Why “must” rather than “should” – you do appear to have somewhat of a problem in distinguishing between the two.

  • fred

    “The rule I exercise is that I cannot say anything good about the recently departed then I will not say anything at all – I would recommend others to follow suit.”

    Margaret Thatcher died and all I can say is “good”.

  • Herbie

    Res Diss opines:

    “I, for one, say whatever I Want, when I want to say it”

    Others may observe that what you say chimes rather remarkably with the propaganda spewed by mainstream media.

    Perhaps you’re totally unaware that mainstream medis is a propaganda tool?

  • craig Post author

    I have deleted Rehmat’s unpleasant comment.

    resident Dissident – The Guardian only published a tiny proportion of the Snowden material. The large majority they destroyed – unread – or actually handed over to the security services. Rusbridger is an unrepentant Blairite.

  • Herbie

    “NSA’s Fake War on Terror

    A New America Foundation report suggests it. More on this below.

    NSA spying is longstanding. It’s ongoing abroad and at home. It has nothing to do with national security. It’s unrelated to uncovering terrorist plots.

    Homegrown ones virtually don’t exist. Alleged ones are hatched. They’re fake. Claiming dozens were foiled in time is false.

    They’re Big Lies. Previous articles discussed dozens of innocent victims. They included:”

    “At issue is generating fear. Washington’s fake war on terror needs public support. FBI operatives are involved.”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/nsas-fake-war-on-terror/5364969

  • Resident Dissident

    Craig

    It still doesn’t make Rusbridger or the Guardian a part of the majority with a fascistic tendency – without them publishing part of the NSA material I very much doubt the whole matter would have come to light and it should be acknowledged that they published in the face of no little pressure from the authorities.

  • Resident Dissident

    Herbie

    If you are unable to discern different stands within mainstream opinion then might I kindly suggest that it is you that has the problem.

    Your circular logic for avoiding engagement with the views of those who belong in the mainstream really is fundamentally flawed and undemocratic. You may consider us all to be brainwashed sheep – but you still have to convince a majority of us of the alternative if you really believe in democracy.

  • Resident Dissident

    Herbie

    BTW if was Daniel Rich who was opining not me – interesting that you wish to take on me rather than his clearly racist language he aimed at myself.

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