Paul Revere was essentially one of the founding members of this country's counter intelligence program against his oppressive government. He was the first in a long line of Mark Felts, Bradley Mannings and Edward Snowdens of this country.
If we have a system where these whistleblowers are stopped before they can leak information on the system that catches them before they can whistleblow there is no turning back. This would not be the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA without Paul Revere and Edward Snowden.
If no, then the long line Revere is the first in does not include Manning.
Manning. Said. So.
As far as Revere was concerned he was way past fighting against his government; he was fighting to support his country against Britain's government.
> Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
> The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
Seriously, read the whole thing. It is a wonderful document which stands on its own, and explains why these Americans no longer considered themselves British, and also why it was not some mere disagreement with their government.
Now, are you going to claim that government operation of a legally-instituted (and reviewed!) program that the majority of the population supports is "absolute Tyranny" with the sole purpose of oppression of the American populace?
I'm just saying, I'd prefer we at least attempt to give the press, the EFF, the ACLU, and the concerned citizenry such as myself and many of my own friends a shot at fixing it before we go saying that violence and terror is the answer.
As many of us as possible need to join the ranks of governments and start slowly making changes. Some of us will be voted out quickly, some of us will fall to corruption but if enough of us can keep our ideals we could turn this around. But voting and protesting aren't going to work.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: DISTORTED COMMUNICATION IN NETWORKS, POWER, AND WEALTH DISTRIBUTION
Cornell University and Banco Central del Ecuador
In a society composed of a dictator and its citizens, what are the determinants of the political equilibrium between these two? What are the conditions for a successful citizens’ revolt? What kind of strategies do governments follow to prevent such revolts? The situation of these types of societies can be understood as a game played between a leader, who has to decide the distribution of the aggregate income, and a group of citizens who have the opportunity to revolt if they are unhappy with the distribution. Coordinated action by citizens is possible because they form nodes in a communication network. However, communication through the network is distorted, which could preclude the emergence of collective action among citizens. The network structure and the distortion level are determinants of the political equilibrium and wealth distribution. The model explains how the dictator could use propaganda, cooptation, and repression to increase his expected utility. Finally, the model is illustrated by applying it to cases in Nigeria and Zaire/Congo.
Big brother's little sister is just as bad. Why not give the ssrn link?
In other words, if a large enough number of people started start calling and texting random Verizon customers, tweeting with random people from the middle east, inviting random people with Muslim-sounding names to Google+ Hangouts, and commenting on every Facebook like with "This ____ is the bomb!"... could that tip the signal to noise ratio enough to defeat this type of analysis?
This is the equivalent of saying that the NSA can use such metadata to find muslim extremists that want to kill your children and implement sharia law. (hyperbole courtesy of American media)
Changing the timeline such that "americans" are the underdogs rather than the establishment isn't really helpful... is it? Or is this attempt to stoke revolutionary sentiment?
You're suggesting that the NSA is just looking for bad guys and that they should be able to capture evil muslim extremists.
But now the US government decides to bring back alcohol prohibition. Drinking, they say, is immoral, and so are the people who drink. Do you still have nothing to fear?
Abortion gets outlawed, and its supporters are branded as immoral. Still got nothing to fear?
Creationism gets accepted as a viable, scientific alternative to evolution and gets taught in all schools, and people who believe otherwise are dangerous subversives.
Are you now one of the bad guys? Are the NSA now interested in you?
I find it interesting that Americans can believe that the right to bear arms will protect them from the world's largest military, should it ever be run by tyrants, but at the same time believe that the government will always share the same moral code that they themselves hold.
The average person feels that they are getting more benefit out of Google searches, Gmail, Facebook, cell phones, and credit cards for that matter, then they are being harmed by volunteering so much information to the corporations who run these businesses.
If you think the U.S. is headed in the direction of outlawing alcohol or teaching creationism is all schools, I respectfully suggest you find something different to worry about -- maybe pot... wait, we are becoming more lenient on it as well.
I find it a bit silly, that when the government adopts new technology to fight crime, everyone brings up their pet boogey-man to try to strike fear in their like-minded citizens. I honestly can't understand if you are in support of, for instance, using web surveillance technology to capture and prosecute abortion clinic bombers or not.
As long as they simultaneously provide the renewal for the license, why not? It would even be a service, since I would have less of hassle dealing with it and remembering to go to their office.
A government that is so efficient that it is basically impossible to even get into trouble with these kinds of administrative things can be a very good thing, as long as it is sufficiently good-natured.
The trouble comes in areas where there is more uncertainty, with laws that are so flexible that it's hard to tell whether you're guilty or not even when you know all the facts. If any prosecutor with an ax to grind can charge anybody with a crime, you have a problem. If, in addition, there are efficient databases that allow the prosecutor to find evidence against anybody even long after the fact, you have a recipe for totalitarianism.
Indeed. One route (the one that I'm trying to keep echoing in my head these days) to thinking about such a nicely-efficient government is to ask how something would go in Iain Banks' Culture.
Did we need a google tap to find McVeigh?
Additionally, your comment of 'If you think the U.S. is headed in the direction of outlawing alcohol or teaching creationism is all schools, I respectfully suggest you find something different to worry about -- maybe pot... wait, we are becoming more lenient on it as well.' is very nonconstructive. To say that trends do not buck or that social opinion never sways is the height of short sightedness.
I'm generally in favor of leaving the constitution technology agnostic.
For a history lesson, consider how unfortunate it would have been to have had this technology back when England kept switching its official religion from Catholic to Protestant and believers in the wrong one were murdered by the state. It would have made the whole slaughter much easier if they could run a quick SQL query to determine who was in Father Jack's parish and where their cell phone said they were hiding out.
The IRS taking political sides is a recent egregious example, but since its inception, the tax code has been used as a political power tool to divide us, giving special treatment to some groups over others. This is why politicians hate the idea of meaningful, economically-sane tax reform.
You mention the citizenry bearing arms against its government and the full force of the military directed against the people. Why take it to that extreme? You must realize that with current technology, small arms are the great equalizer among Men (and women). Think 110 lb jogger with a .45 vs. thug rapist. Now large government types want to take guns away from the citizenry for ideological reasons, but those reasons make the assumption that the people must be taken care of and protected by the government.
And that is where the big vs. small government argument hinges. Should the government protect the personal well-being of each citizen? The Founders said that we are born with the right to the "pursuit of happiness" not to the happiness itself. Too many on the big-government bandwagon have been promising the happiness for too long. Too many judges have been siding with the government over the rights of the people.
An overactive surveillance state once again operates under the assumption that the people are unable to take care of themselves. We MUST monitor all traffic so we can catch even the smallest act of 'terror,' destroying the rights of the people in the process and giving the government huge power over them. And speaking of traffic, the CAFE standards for autos have killed more Americans than the terrorists have.
Our national dialog needs to be framed in the "Freedom vs. Security" trade off, but I'm not so sure that many people even understand what freedom is / was supposed to be.
The function of dialogue like this is to push the metadata conversation into the mainstream. We want the People to understand that giving away our privacy in this data is /JUST/ like taking their guns, and for the same reasons.
The group that both guns and supports domestice spying is overlap of "I just use guns for shooting rabbits for fun, and I don't like brown people, and I trust the government", not the groups that says "I need my guns in case the government tries to steal my land."
The great challenge we face in educating the populace (and indeed, ourselves) is that people lack any intuition for what sorts of data they should or should not broadcast. People are hesitant (I hope!) to give out home addresses to strangers without good cause--we have no such innate hunches about the data and metadata we leak.
So, at the very least, that example doesn't really work for me.
Here it is, if you hadn't seen it:
Apparently it was so controversial that his site crashed from the traffic, and he had to tell everyone to chill out: http://davidsimon.com/nsa-and-fisa-commentary-calling-it/
Anyway, why I thought of that in relation to the OP was, that I think some defenders of the NSA and general government surveillance policies are just unaware of how technology can fundamentally change things...As Google leaders have been known to say, "Speed is a feature"...and so it's not the finding of information that makes the establishment of Google time in human civilization, but how fast Google allows us to do it.
So that said, Simon is one of the journalists I have the absolute highest regard for...I'll be one of the many who think "The Wire" is the best TV drama ever, both for its artistic take and for its illustration of how institutions -- the police, the schools, the drug trade -- corrupt even the best of individuals. "The Wire" is heavily based off of the year that Simon embedded himself in the Baltimore homicide department...the book (which spawned a network TV show) is the best book about the practice of journalism I've ever read. After a year following the detectives, you'd think Simon would be pretty much in cahoots with the police...but he followed up "Homicide" with "The Corner", in which he spent a year embedded with drug dealers and their customers...apparently most of the friendsships he made in the Baltimore Police department evaporated after he published a book bringing sympathy to Baltimore's downtrodden.
Anyway, I don't think Simon has a love for government or authority. But I do think he's a little naive when it comes to advances in technology and their consequences. When "The Wire" started, the police were focused mostly on tapping pay phones. By the time "The Wire" ended, the police were surprised at the advent of camera phones. So when Simon says he thinks the NSA and other law agencies won't abuse their wiretap authority, I believe him...because in much of his experience, the practical obstacles (such as, having to have an officer watch a payphone all day) made it basically impossible for blanket surveillance.
But technology is different...I think Simon's -- and others who I respect -- mistake is to think that the game is being played the same as it always is. It may be the case that the NSA is staffed with as people as good and conscientious as anywhere else...but it's naive to think (as was the primary lesson in "The Wire") that the power they have will lead them astray...and to those of us affected by it, it makes no difference if the violations were intentional or accidental.
Anyway, back to Paul Revere and the OP...I think it's a great example. But of course, what makes that educational scenario feasible is technology and the ability to record information (metadata or whatever you want to call it) in an organized way.
Frankly, I kind of thought anyone who read 1984 would understand how technology changes everything. But yeah, I do think there are some well-meaning people don't grasp the technology, and if they did, they'd have a different opinion about the dangers of unchecked surveillance.
* edit: misspelled conscientious as 'contentious'
* edit: as an example of how much Simon continues to challenge the police as a citizen, here's an essay he wrote after the success of the Wire, in which he tried, as a citizen, to get the basic details of a cop-involved shooting, something that has always been public record. He eventually succeeded, and the revelations about the officer involved ended up jeopardizing the prosecution: http://davidsimon.com/in-baltimore-no-one-left-to-press-the-...
But as you can see if you read the piece, Simon is not to thrilled with how the Internet has displaced newspaper journalism
> Next, if you’ve read carefully you know that I’ve saved my criticism not for this data dump, which I do indeed support, but for the all-enveloping secrecy that prevents proper civilian oversight of the FISA court.
This is called being disingenuous. The problem has two halves: (A) the data, and (B) controls over the data.
Simon is calling everyone foolish because he thinks the problem is B, not A. He completely fails to acknowledge that the problem is A+B, and if haven't won on B, we have to fight to defend A.
I don't mind an NSA with all data and no abuse/breaches. But that's not going to happen!
I don't care if the NSA is completely independent and covert, if they don't have any data to analyze!
And from what I know of human nature, I know where I want to plant my defenses. Just like the people who wrote the Constitution, I prefer to limit the power of the government officials, not give them unlimited trust.
There's also an insidious quality to current surveillance in that it is not just pervasive over space, but over time. Once they have a database like that envisioned in PRISM and the Verizon records, it could be used to travel back through any person's intimate life looking for weak points, failures, emotional attachments, and transgressions, very useful in discrediting political opponents or inconvenient journalists, and very useful in quelling any revolts by citizens before they even begin. These are currently the methods that intelligence agencies use to turn assets and use them for their own ends on a small scale, but should we allow them the tools to use these techniques against an entire population simultaneously and retrospectively? What would the long-term outcome of that sort of power be?
I also do wonder why the methods they use should be secret in the first place? I completely understand the need for operational security on specific operations or details of methods, but if a huge broad program like this is done in a nation's name, surely they should know what is being done and approve or disapprove of it? I can't imagine there are any terrorists the professed target of these programs, who are not aware of widespread monitoring, so I find it hard to believe the top secret nature of the programs is about security so much as avoiding oversight. The avoidance of providing specific details to congress from former BAH executive Clapper is a good illustration of this - if congress can't get broad figures out of them, who are they accountable to?
So the combination of power multiplied by technology and the lack of accountability is the difference between this and tapping telephone lines on an individual basis.
This idea that the big coup here is that when they decide they want to target you, they already have a huge cache of intel on you. Like the Boston marathon bombers - at 9am they identify you, and at 9:15am they know everything there is to know about you since they've already collected it on everyone.
The government is constrained by law and policy. Snowden makes the outstanding point that policy can change. He calls it "turnkey tyranny". And he's right.
But what stops Google's next CEO or CTO from doing the same?
So in some real sense we're entering an era where our privacy rights at least are at risk from multiple different parties. So while I don't necessarily want the government to have access to treasure troves, I don't mind them being as well-armed as the civilian providers who hold my data.
And as long as we're able to keep those types of NSA systems used for good (just as we've managed to maintain proper controls on nukes), I'm not even sure I'd find it that horrible.
Similar schemes were used in Iraq to help finally stamp out IED cells. They put video cameras everywhere around IED problem areas (using ground-based cameras and drones) and they simply recorded everything.
When an IED detonated, they would simply play the tape back to figure out who set the trap, and where they came from. And where they came from before that. And they would piece together entire cells at the blink of an eye.
That's the kind of thing I'd like the NSA to be able to use against the future OBLs of the world. Could the NSA use it "against" me? Possibly, but the marginal increase in risk for me is near-zero, especially if we can strengthen the transparency around the program and strengthen some of the policies that protect us into the force of law.
Because after all, if I'm willing to assume the government might go after me in an extralegal fashion, I'm already fucked.
The law. There are many restrictions on how Google or Facebook use and distribute user data, and those laws are respected and enforced.
That's what Snowdon found so disturbing about the NSA - they no longer feel constrained by any law, and that they think their actions are a matter of policy because the laws governing their actions are so weak and ignorable (not the case for corporations). Even senators can't find out what they're really up to or talk about it to anyone else if they do.
And either way, according to the EFF a portion of the FISA used to support PRISM and subpoenaing Verizon's records was ruled unconstitutional and here they are doing it anyways.
So certainly there should be legal safeguards, and those need to have the force of law (instead of policy) where those safeguards must survive a change of Administration. But let's not kid ourselves about what the law really prevents, either in practice or in that worst case that civil liberties advocates always mention.
I believe it does, yes. At least the law is public and you therefore know what the rules of the game are in the case of corporations and can hold them to it or point out infractions.
With the NSA there is no public law governing their activities (or at least no law that they seem to respect, as you note).
(Makes sense, since Marx, Lenin, Stalin et co were heavy readers of Hegel).
From Wikipedia: "One important dialectical principle for Hegel is the transition from quantity to quality, which he terms the Measure."
Also check the ancient greek notion of the "sorites paradox", which deals with a similar idea:
Further, they were constantly in fear of running into the expiration date, and the battle was waged on whether they could get data of enough substance before the tap's expiry that they would be able to extend it.
The problem in reconciling the two situations is that in the Baltimore case, assuming the show faithfully retold that portion, it was hard, but in the case of the NSA, their approvals come from the FISC, which numerically is reduced down to a rubber stamp agency. Since their inception in 1979, up to 2012 or so, they have approved over 30,000 requests, and rejected only 11. Further, it seems that they're somewhat unique in a warrant-issuing agency in that they've provided assistance on those 11 such that requests were amended, reissued, and in many cases, granted. So of those 11 denials, I am led to believe that the majority of those proved to be slightly delayed approvals in reality.
Beyond that, I think that Mr. Simon overlooks the capacity of metadata at that scale, and how effective it could be in painting a picture in a way that smaller scale, Baltimore-wide data could never do. If, for example, the British had been able to capture 'only the metadata' of our founding father's meetings in Philadelphia, it wouldn't have taken much analysis at all to have proven what was happening (famous statesmen gathering in Philadelphia court house for overnight meetings, etc.) Just knowing the attendee list alone would have likely been enough to condemn them all for treason or assassination, and the United States might never have existed.
Is this what you meant to say? I must admit, I had expected
"but it's naive to think (as was the primary lesson in "The Wire") that the power they have will not lead them astray..."
> A man who was jailed without bail for months because a Baltimore police officer said he tried to disarm her was set free Tuesday after Officer Traci L. McKissick changed her story during emotional courtroom testimony.
Earlier this year, McKissick told prosecutors that Joseph A. Forrest was the man who stepped on her hand as she held a gun and wrestled with Forrest's 61-year-old uncle, who was killed by police during an altercation in February.
But that case, like this one, was dropped because of evidence problems.
"Her testimony on this was horrible, it was all contradictory," defense attorney Warren A. Brown said yesterday, referring to the Forrest case. He ticked off a list of what he said were conflicting statements, including the number of times McKissick discharged her weapon.
Brown represented the 2005 suspect as well as the 45-year-old Forrest and says both cases involved inconsistent statements by McKissick.
We all know that history is written by the victors so I won't suggest that what Paul Revere and the other revolutionaries did was an unmitigated good.
But I will argue that needing to expend the resources it takes (salary, benefits, management, etc) to have one human being monitor another does put a pretty good check on the ability of those in power to stifle dissent. It also provides some kind of a critical threshold over which the revolutionaries can't reasonably be stopped. In many ways that's a good thing provided it's a high enough level. Once the public opinion swings the best thing to happen is for those in power to give up on suppression and start packing their bags.
He also has a lot of good reference material on latex/org-mode/pandoc. Definitely a good resource to have handy if you ever have a less-techie friend who wants to get away from MS word and its ilk.