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You don't have to ponder this much to see what kind of abuse of power this is. As a brief thought experiment, imagine a country trying to ground Air Force One (the US presidential plane), and then asking to search it. I'm thinking you'd see calls for war, from political pundits in the US.



It's likely not really about Snowden anymore, it's about making an example of Snowden to dissuade any future whistle-blowers from doing what he did.

So we can expect massively disproportionate actions like this.

And you know what... that's great. Because you know what it does? It reinforces a sense that at the heart of the American government there's an intelligence community that's turned into a feral beast. A beast that seemingly can't be controlled by anyone we elect and it's wandering around the world pissing off people indiscriminately in its wild attempts to get Snowden back.

Snowden has revealed the nature of the beast and the beast itself can't help but make things worse for itself.

So with this latest escapade, they've thoroughly pissed off the South Americans, who will likely be absolutely furious with America, but even more so europe. The european populace is going to be scratching its head wondering why the hell they're denying flights into their airspace at the behest of people who apparently spend all their time spying on them?

Seems like a complete and utter mess to me. The beast can't help itself, it's panicking, running around the world doing increasingly stupid and desperate things to get Snowden back.

The beast has lost its anonymity, it's showing itself up by taking actions obviously not in the best interests of the USA but rather out of pure panic.

It's making itself vulnerable.


I think this case of denied airspace is more about showing leaders of smaller countries the price of saying no to US demands, than about threatening future whistleblowers.

If you're the leader of a sovereign country and try to make decisions that clash with wishes of USA, they will make your own life difficult.

Interesting play.


But as always the true power in a relationship is from the subordinate party, they can always say "no"; i.e. take their ball and go home. Authority comes from submission. Maybe this is why Cuba is still hounded even worse than the USSR ever was, they refused to play along.

In the end sovereign relations is little different from playground antics; pleading your case from the stance of rationality and/or fairness doesn't get you very far, only once someone is seriously hurt do things change (sometimes not ever then; Stubenville anyone?).


"as always the true power in a relationship is from the subordinate party, they can always say no"

That's the first I've heard of this line of thought. Is there research on this statement? It's pretty counter-intuitive to think that the true power in a relationship lies with the subordinate party. I don't see how slaves, military personnel, or even office workers could be considered truly powerful over their superiors. In some cases saying "no" would lead to serious inconvenience and possible misery. In other cases it could lead to death.


In the case of slavery, even subordination could lead to misery and death. What would have happened if every slave had simply stopped responding and refused to do work for even one minute? They'd be beaten and tortured but if they kept it up, their people wouldn't be enslaved anymore as doing so would just be a waste of money and time.

Obviously you couldn't get that many people to allow themselves to be tortured to death to prevent future enslavement, but the thought exercise makes it appear that the GP's assertion has merit even if it's not entirely practical.


> their people wouldn't be enslaved anymore as doing so would just be a waste of money and time.

Doesn't look like a big win to me. Native Americans were not very popular as slaves, so they were simply killed instead...


There is the case of the Haitian Revolution, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution, where that is exactly what happened.


Well, it somewhat worked with religious martyrs of various denominations. I'm thinking of Christian martyrs and Islamic ones for example, where the act of resisting was in itself a way to transcend death.

I think in the end it's all a matter of how you sell it. There wasn't a unifying story for all those enslaved africans to rally behind. In the end there needs to be a narrative that pushes people into openly rebelling against the status quo.


Does a poem count as research?

There are no masters, only slaves. None command, when none obey.


"It's making itself vulnerable."

It's not vulnerable, it's more dangerous.

It's just that more people are finally see the men behind the curtains and realizing that they are just as petty and human as the rest of us, but have insane amounts of power. And are not willing to give up any of that power or even display any true global leadership or responsibility.

Realize that "these people" have absolute power. And as time goes on, don't need as much as the population around to maintain their status or luxuries. What would you do in their place if faced with a angry populous?


No, this morning they just look incompetent. When was the last time you ever heard of any presidential plane ever being stopped and searched in transit through a foreign airport? Or passage through airspace being denied?

I can't remember it ever happening. Dictators can fly around the world with impunity but they'll contrive to ground the plane of a democratically elected president and search it, for some guy who published a bunch of powerpoint presentations?

And they did all this... with all the consequences it's going to have and they didn't even get Snowden!


Rather than incompetent, it looks brazen to me. They don't do this unless they know they can get away with it, and that makes it scary.


Well put, really puts into perspective how incredibly out of proportion and punitive this measure was.


Let me preface this by stating I'm not a big fan of guns personally, but let's modify that question a bit to say: "What would you do in their place if faced with an angry and ridiculously armed populous?"... well I'd probably do my best to stay off their radar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_c...

Sometimes I think the powers that be are poking an enormous sleeping dog with a stick just for giggles.


Personal firearms are worthless against NBC weapons. And I wouldn't be surprised to know genetic weapons are being developed...


Not in an insurgency, low-intensity warfare sort of way. Not unless you can somehow make them very targeted.

"We had to destroy the [village] in order to save it" doesn't really apply if you consider, say, New York City.

As https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002 (and, of course, successful terrorist acts over the last decade) demonstrated, low tech is still Good Enough for a lot of purposes.


Exactly. It's guerilla warfare. The military would be next to useless in a situation like that. Not to mention morale issues.


Yes, but that's assuming there are people in the government with the will to deploy those weapons against the public. At best they'd only achieve pyrrhic victory.


It's funny that the US has twice the amount of guns per capita compared to Switzerland, when Switzerland is the country that demands that all conscpripts in their militia keep a gun at their home.


But where does this power come from? Now that other countries (and their citizens) see the "men behind the curtains", they will likely start taking steps to limit their exposure to this country and hopefully begin weakening its power.

The US gets away with much of what it does because of the enormous US market. But at some point other countries will realize that the cost of that market has gotten too high and then a large chunk of the the US' power will dissolve.


What would you do in their place if faced with a angry populous?

I would behave so much better than when faced with an apathetic one.

To me this is like the argument that "prostitution avoids rape", it's blackmail.


"prostitution avoids rape" isn't blackmail, it's just ignorance since rape is about power, not someone desperate for a lay.


<quote>...who will likely be absolutely furious with America, but even more so europe.</quote>

France, Italy, Spain and Portugal all agreed to deny this aircraft access to their airspace. Europe may be furious with America, but they are certainly not showing it by their actions.

Europe's bark is worse than it's bite - and America will be very satisfied with that.


The leaders of these countries may have agreed, though some apparently have later reversed their position. The citizens certainly have not.


> And you know what... that's great. Because you know what it does? It reinforces a sense that at the heart of the American government there's an intelligence community that's turned into a feral beast. A beast that seemingly can't be controlled by anyone we elect and it's wandering around the world pissing off people indiscriminately in its wild attempts to get Snowden back.

Unfortunately, I doubt that. I think that anything the US does in its search/example-making of Snowden will be accepted by the majority of Americans as reasonable and even virtuous.


A beast that seemingly can't be controlled by anyone we elect

They're in total control of the beast. They want the beast. They could end the beast at any time.

You think that Bush's and Obama's massive expansions of government weren't all about amassing and maintaining political power? Those guys both believe that more government power/money solves all woes.

Where are all the big government apologists in this thread? Let's hear a defense for the inevitable abuse of power that unchecked government growth leads to.


Ah, there's nothing quite like trying to hijack an issue for your preconceived partisan hobby horse.

Tell us more about how those of us who believe in investing in public education and transit infrastructure while cutting the military/security budget are really the ones in favor of this military/security program.

Don't forget to include how the Tea Party are the heroes here. You can cite all the redstate.com contributors calling Snowden a traitor as evidence. (http://www.redstate.com/2013/07/01/tech-at-night-snowdens-on...) Or you could go to David Brooks or basically every conservative except for Rand Paul.

Or maybe, just maybe, you should drop the tribal BS and recognize that this issue cuts across party lines.


I read that more as a "statist (which both republicans and democrats are) vs non-statist (libertarians, anarchists, etc)" shading. The parent mentioned both Bush and Obama, so he's clearly suggesting that BOTH democrats and republicans like bigger government. Both parties have little pet "get the government out" issues but nothing serious.


Man, and here I am, just an almost-true-scotsman.


Could you help me out here? I'm not trying to be purposefully dense but I can't really figure out what you're trying to say.

I understand the "almost true scotsman" as a reference to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman but I'm not really sure how it's applicable.

> You think that Bush's and Obama's massive expansions of government weren't all about amassing and maintaining political power? Those guys both believe that more government power/money solves all woes.

This is clearly bipartisan. He's attacking both democrats and republicans and suggesting that on many issues there's little difference. I don't believe it's possible to argue that it's partisan. It attacks both sides.

It might be tribal, but on an axis orthogonal to the traditional left/right political spectrum.


Definitely about making Snowden an example. It's in the gov't's interest to make the cost of leaking high to discourage future leakers.


Ironically, what they're actually doing is showing that leaking can cause them to make disastrous decisions. How many more Snowdens will it take before the US irreparably damages itself? From the looks of things, not that many more.


Obama saying on national TV "we only target foreign entities [without a warrant]" is enough irreparable damage to the US internet industry.

No non-US entity is ever going to give high-value confidential data to Google, GMail users, Android phones, AWS, companies hosted on AWS, Apple, iPhones, or Skype ever again.

Even if NSA swears up and down that they've stopped spying, how could we ever know if they're lying? (We already know they're more than willing to lie under oath.)


Yea, and this was just one Snowden. Imagine if another popped up with some other program we don't know about. They'd likely get even more frantic and take an even bigger gauge shotgun to their feet. I have to imagine that inspires whistleblowers at least as much as it scares them.


You know what's probably the worst part of all of this?

It's at I'm afraid to say what I want to say about the topic online.


Self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship.

(Meant as words of understanding, not criticism.)


I don't know if that's true. But at least we are aware that we are scared like sh*t about this.


It's true. A government can only censor so much content. Inevitably there will be some escaping it.

But if everyone censors themselves out of fear, then that's much more effective of a power for a government to have, since they barely have to do any censorship work themselves. They just need to set examples every now and then to remind people "what's waiting for them" if they dare try to expose the truth.

I've said it before around here - the most dangerous thing is not the dictator himself. He can be removed if, and only if, the population itself has a free spirit and viciously opposes him, until they remove him.

But the real threat is when part of the population starts believing in the dictator's "ideals" and principles, and defend his actions "for the good of the people", and the other part is too scared to say anything anymore. That's when a dictator can rule in "peace", for a long time, and so will his successors, because then, for "his kind", the environment is very "welcoming".

Here's a good example of the opposite of self-censorship, and what everyone should be doing:

http://mobandmultitude.com/2013/07/02/the-nsa-comes-recruiti...


Agreed. Similarly when countries everywhere started changing their law that made living in those places a worse experience.. the terrorists won.


That link is brilliant, well worth listening to.


Same here, this is weird. I live in a country where free speech is given but I still censorship myself when talking about the US online.


This might be paranoia , there are plenty of controversial anti-US things all over the internet and AFAIK the writers have not been rounded up and arrested.


At present people are harassed or turned away at the border for their published views, that policy could get worse in time, and information online lives forever (esp. if it is intercepted and stored). So it might be prudent to limit your statements online, or just accept you're not going to visit the US any more.

Laura Poitras for example is routinely questioned for hours on entering or leaving the US, just because she made a film about Iraq. She is no danger to the US, she is not a terrorist or associated with them any more than another journalist, and yet she is harassed for her views, even before she interviewed Snowden. I believe Jacob Appelbaum is another example.

She's quite high profile, but I personally know of at least one other case of someone being detained every time they crossed the border - an ordinary apolitical person living in the US, stopped every time for hours simply because of where they were born or their name, they were never sure which. It was so frequent that they gave up living/working there.


> At present people are harassed or turned away at the border for their published views, that policy could get worse in time, and information online lives forever (esp. if it is intercepted and stored). So it might be prudent to limit your statements online, or just accept you're not going to visit the US any more.

There is a distinction here to make though; I don't think it is inherently wrong to refuse entry to the U.S./question any person who is not an American. It is not clear why that should be the case ever. (I say this as a person who found the visa system to enter the U.S. profoundly annoying.)

On the other hand, refusal of entry to American citizens is a whole different issue.


The distinction I'd make is between harassment for your political views or because your name is on some opaque list, and legitimate questioning or investigation of known terrorist suspects.


You are confounding two things now too. One is legitimate concerns that would lead to refusal to entry or questioning or similar. The other is pointless harassment due to problems with the system. The OP gave examples of the latter. Hopefully, you don't think the latter is OK no matter what.


> Hopefully, you don't think the latter is OK no matter what.

I never said that; just because I don't think a system is wrong doesn't mean that I think it is right. I am saying that the system is broken. It however is a complicated system; I don't see any possible way of making it magically better.

I am pretty clear that the U.S. can decide however it wants to to allow entry to its soil. For example, the visa process when I traveled was atrocious; yet for most Europeans under a visa waiver program, it becomes easy. It is easy to claim discrimination or complain; however, I am not a voter, there is no lobby out there complaining about why the visa process for non-Europeans is so awful.

Also, the U.S. is not special in this process. A white American traveling to Europe faces way less hassle than someone else who doesn't have the right ethnicity or the right passport does.

Most of you are becoming aware of the process when people you can relate to are being affected; my point is that this has been happening for decades with no domestic opposition to the process.


> On the other hand, refusal of entry to American citizens is a whole different issue.

AFAIK Jake Appelbaum is a US citizen.

They can't actually refuse entry to citizens, but they sure as hell can interrogate/threaten/harass/etc. I know Jake's been harassed a bunch of times at the border (and had his laptops/phones/etc stolen under the guise of searching them - they get to keep them for 48 hours to forensically image but then never give them back).

It's happened to me, too, and I'm not even on any of these lists, I just choose not to answer any of the voluntary questions they ask of everyone coming in. Anyone who values their freedom and has watched the excellent Don't Talk To The Police video[1] will do the same, and will meet with similar harassment and abuse.

Cops in the USA are real dicks, especially the super-"patriotic" border cops, and they can and will make your day really terrible if you don't do exactly as they say (even if you have the legal right not to).

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc


Yet.


How would we even know if something like this had already happened on a small scale?


Yep. South African here.


You arguably have more to fear from your own government, which has far greater capability to (legally) spy on your electronic communications in real-time.

Both the NCC and the Interception Centres set up under RICA have virtually unlimited power and access, in fact every service provider is required by law to install the equivalent of Verizon's Room 641A which feeds data real-time directly to an Interception Centre.


AFAIK there are no physical RICA interception centres up and running yet.


I'm hearing conflicting reports. I know Laurie Fialkov of CyberSmart has stated that there aren't any up and running and no live interception happening, but I've heard elsewhere that at least one large one exists. I'd be interested in hearing the responses to the same question posed to Telkom, Vodacom, MTN & Cell C, who would be the first to be approached for live streaming.

We do know that the OIC carried out 3 million interceptions between 2006 and 2010 and the implication has been that at least some were live.

The biggest problem at the moment though is the NCC, which the Matthews Commission found regularly conducted warrantless bulk interceptions and environmental scanning. Unfortunately the Matthews Commission's recommendations went nowhere and from what I'm hearing the NCC has even fewer internal controls on what it monitors within our borders.

I just wish South Africans would have as much outrage about what happens locally as they do for what the NSA does.


Just use a handle from LoTR and bounce your trace around China before posting...


Is my up-vote being sniffed?


And that's where RetroShare comes in: http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/

It's:

1. Decentralized (real p2p, no central servers)

2. Encrypted communication

3. I'd even add: Easier to set up than encrypted email: Install -> Exchange "certificates" -> Done.

IMO, it's currently the best way to communicate.


I rather think that's where this comes in:

When I was asked to make this address I wondered what I had to say to you boys who are graduating. And I think I have one thing to say. If you wish to be useful, never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country. In so far as you depart from this course, you become dampers, mutes, and hooded executioners. -- John J. Chapman

Retroshare is nice, but can't be used to talk in public as a member of the public with other members of the public. I mean, a few friends talking freely behind closed doors? Even dictatorships have that.

Don't take this wrong, I know you meant to point out a cool program, and I'm not having a go at you or anyone seeking technical solutions for this.. but I think this is a social/political problem, and ultimately needs to be deal with as such, if we're ever to achieve anything real.

If talking freely is risky, because we're still in the stone age in so many ways, then I want the risks, not to shut up.


I agree. What you are saying is really important, and using RetroShare does not seem to be the correct solution to mark_integerdsv's problem.

> a few friends talking freely behind closed doors? Even dictatorships have that.

But I feel that I do not have this across the Internet! It is good to be able to talk freely behind closed doors, too. This is why RetroShare seems to solve an important problem for me :)


Hah, that is a good point. Of course we need encryption, and we also need to play alpha and beta testers to help find out what works and doesn't. Regardless of politics, there will always be blackhats, so don't take any of that as arguing against using Retroshare, which I like. I just like to stay hungry :)


I applaud that attitude - we definitely need more Edward Snowdens!


In a documentary about Africa I saw zebras trying to cross a river. It was full of crocodiles awaiting them, and the zebras all gathered around the edge nervously... sooner or later, a few zebras would step (or get pushed) into the river, and then the rest scrambled to follow them, as if on cue. A few got surrounded by crocodiles and eaten ("without ever having felt / sorry for itself" .. !), but the vast majority made it across fine.

Imagine if the zebras instead had watched in horror as the first few "pioneers" got mauled... prodding each other saying "your turn", until all of them were too weak to be able to cross, even as a herd, and the crocodiles simply came out of the river and dragged them into it (which is exactly what would have happened, because the reason they cross rivers is that there is nothing left to eat on their side of it).

Not that I consider humans herd animals, or that I want to other humans who prey on humans so much that I would cast them as a different species. But I still think there is a lesson for us in there, too. Cowardice, as rational as it may seem, simply doesn't pay in the long run. Until we learn that, we're stuck.


Thanks for this great story


I've recently started developing something like this. Now it looks like I might not have to. Thanks!

I found RetroShare worthy of its own submission, given today's climate: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5983913


I'd rather have my public opinions public and face the consequences.

If the next time I visit the US I have my laptop confiscated, my luggage searched or have my entry denied, so be it. I'll know that's because the US no longer welcomes free speech and plan my future travels and career moves accordingly.

I'll add that, if that ever happens, it'll be a sad day for me. I still have faith a country founded on principles rather than ethnicity or geography means something. I'd like to keep that faith, if possible.


Nothing has ever happened to me in the past and I have no reason to believe I'm under investigation for anything I've ever said. Yet I've already made the decision to never go back. The "lose" position is simply too high to make it worth it. As it stands, if someone decided to "make an example" out of me for some bizarre reason I could be detained indefinitely with no realistic recourse. I can't think of anything the US has (that other countries don't) that makes that sort of risk, regardless of how unlikely it is, worth it (in case that's not clear, what I mean is, my expected odds for getting kidnapped by the US might be one in 100 trillion trillion, yet if it happens my life could be over).


I am a US citizen, born within the continental US, carrying a US passport.

When I exercise my fifth amendment right to silence when I am questioned upon attempting to re-enter my home country, I get arrested and harassed and threatened for hours and hours.

The phones are all tapped, the cops rule everything, and all of the basic rights we were told we had are now exercised only at the mercy of the military rulers.

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/q71/s720x720/100...

A few years ago I went back to the US to visit the crypto museum (incidentally, right across the street from NSA in Fort Meade). It was my first trip to the DC area and the first night I got in, I went over to the Jefferson memorial. A sign on the pathway approaching the dome warns visitors that due to federal law, firearms are prohibited on the grounds.

Jefferson would be proud, I'm sure.

[note to non-US citizens: It's basic right #2 in the USA that people can own and carry firearms.]


Did a google image search on that photo to see if it is a hoax and it's real. The park is in Cleveland Ohio.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2013/07/0...


With very few exceptions, firearms are strictly prohibited anywhere in DC. Ironic, huh?


Thanks! Going to check this out.


Thanks - I've been looking for something that would be similar to the BBS functionality I found very useful a couple decades ago. This looks like it does an even better job.


Totally what I was thinking. I feel like there should be huge protests about the NSA situation right now in the US but it's like no one cares, let's just move on with our daily lives and forget that everything we say and do is being listened to and watched.


This indifference of the "average Joe" is a major trait of totalitarianism.

I never thought I would say this, and I'm actually afraid of saying it out loud because it sounds like hyperbole. But the way I see it, the USA is becoming a totalitarian state. It won't look like any previous totalitarian regime, but many of the hallmarks are there.


People never care until they are hungry. Empty stomaches spark revolutions. Vast majority of Americans still have jobs.


"Every society is only three meals away from revolution."


Even if you exaggerate the known NSA spying by one or two orders of a magnitude, the US is nowhere near becoming a totalitarian state.


Here are some examples of the "hallmarks of totalitarianism" I see in the United States. Read it and tell me that this is nowhere near totalitarianism. Tell me: what exactly is missing, and how much?

Indiscriminate spying and privacy violation. Selective execution of citizens with no trial or oversight. Secret courts. Gag orders for oversight initiatives. World record in incarceration. Lifetime prison sentences for non-violent offenses. Indefinite, extrajudicial detention of prisoners. Torture. The use of plea bargains to persuade a guilty plea. Use of paramilitary forces (SWAT teams) to apprehend non-violent suspects. Asset freezes, with the consequence of rendering a fair trial impossible. Systematic persecution of whistleblowers, even those who follow the "chain of command". Harsh limits on legal protests ("free speech zones"). Persecution of investigative journalists. Overtly propagandic statements in the news media (referring to, for instance, CNN's very particular use of language in the Snowden case).


I notice you list persecution of investigative journalists. What case were you thinking about?


I'm not sure "persecution" is the right word for this, but the DOJ unilaterally seized phone records for several Associated Press journalists directly from the telephone company without notifying the AP first.

Needless to say, this is a gross abuse of power; the AP couldn't even challenge the seizure in court because they executed the seizure secretly. It's particularly frightening because it dissuades anyone, particularly government officials potentially privy to corrupt programs & practices, from anonymously talking to journalists.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/business/media/head-of-the...

EDIT: here's a Wikipedia article on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Department_of_Justice_inve...


Barrett Brown is the first name that comes to mind. Julian Assange is arguably in the same camp, at least partially. There has also been a sentiment that Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for his role in the Snowden case, albit not by government officials.

The US does not systematically persecute investigative journalists, at least not yet. But the sentiment is there, and there are cases that have crossed the line.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrett_Brown

http://falkvinge.net/2013/06/30/with-journalism-persecuted-t...


I think it is a stretch calling him a journalist. I would consider him an activist.


Newsflash: Journalism has evolved. Technology changes things. There is more journalism done today by "activists" and "bloggers" than the mainstream media. You can tell just by watching the mainstream media and checking where they get a lot of their "scoops" from. The blogosphere is the new AP. It is now economically feasible to publish the entirety of recently public primary documents.


There is an expectation of objectivity in journalism. I think being an activist makes it more difficult for readers to trust your objectivity. I'm not taking anything away from contributions from activists, they are often on the front lines, but that doesn't mean they are journalists.


Such an expectation is grossly misplaced. Anyone who has ever watched the sausage being made will attest to that. It probably hasn't been objective since Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, and these days only the journalists in the field, far from the newsroom are able to exercise the free will to be objective. People used to get into the news because they want to tell the truth, or that's the romantic story I've been told. However, I have rarely met anyone that went into journalism that was any more objective than activists and bloggers.


Okay, but I still don't think it is crazy to expect some level of objectivity in journalism. I suppose I'm thinking of news not editorials or opinion.


I think it would be nice to require color coding of the news by a fact-checking editor. Basically, anything that is a confirmed fact is highlighted in green. Anything considered fact, but hasn't been confirmed is highlighted yellow. And anything that is opinion or has no basis in reality is red. With that, just let users toggle things on and off in the article.


Maybe. But the sentiment is there. This is a slippery slope, and the US is on its way down.


the fact is that all the elements are there to make it into one. A huge government, a large military force, constant spying, a major disrespect for basic constitutional rights, and now it's just about how fast it slides.


>Even if you exaggerate the known Gestapo spying by one or two orders of a magnitude, Germany is nowhere near becoming a totalitarian state

Everyone believes this before and while it is actually happening. The US already has literally all required elements. All that is missing is scale.


You are severely misquoting me, to the point of outright lying.

I don't believe it is useful to level accusations on a society based on such simplistic hand waving.

The details are important. The scale is important. On this very small scale there is significant resistance, what would you expect when the scale widens?

In a democracy, dissent is usually oscillatory. It will rise as public opinion takes a for all practical purposes random walk in some direction, and the people in power, who are necessarily few, develop into another direction. Then there's a bang, be it an election, an accident, a scandal, or something like Fukushima prompting the German exit from nuclear power, and "dissent" is incorporated into power, lowering the amplitude of discontent.


I'm misquoting you? I copied your line exactly... You can look right above and see it there unless you've edited it.


Depending on your definitions of "huge" and "no one", here ya go: http://www.reddit.com/r/restorethefourth/


At the time of this comment, r/restorethefourth has 19,511 subscribers. The US has a population of approximately 319 million (WolframAlpha estimate).

We are the 0.00612 percent!


> I feel like there should be huge protests about the NSA situation right now in the US

Weren't you all going to protest on july 4th? Tomorrow?



If I were Bolivia I would make it a point to give Snowden asylum now. Fuck this.


I'm kind of hoping that when they get the plane "home", it turns out he actually was in there, and they show him popping out of a cupboard on live TV.


While I think this is not impossible, I am not sure whether I wish for it to be the case, as it will, to some, justify the US & EU reaction.

I would rather Snowden still was in Moscow, but found asylum swiftly in an EU nation.. Unlikely, but I think that would be the best outcome.


Are you still dreaming?

These EU nations, France Portugal Italy, you think they would ever give him asylum? Europe is the backwater of the world when it comes to freedom right now. These countries are puppets of US, no more no less than Manchuko was for Japan, Vichy France, Quisling/Norway for Hitler.

If anything, behind the scenes they are running to lick ass of US, running against each other to bring Snowden to their big daddy first.


And in 30 years they can make a Hollywood movie about the operation...


My thought exactly!


There's only one equation in international politics, POWER. There's nothing wrong or right, there's only power.


That's a pre-WWII view, a hobbesian view of Leviathans wrestling for power and resources across the globe.

Funnily enough, the US government itself pushed to overcome that view after WWII, by instituting the Nuremberg tribunal: they flat-out invented "international law" as we know it today, introducing the concept of a "law of humanity" that didn't know borders. This was done against the will of European rulers, who knew it would have come back to haunt them one day (which it did, when they were forced to dismantle their colonial empires).

Today, power is just one of the various factors of international relations. The fact that subsequent US governments have been hell-bent into ignoring this, will count against them whenever the inevitable redde rationem comes, be it at the hands of crazy Middle-Easterners or fed-up Europeans. History is a harsh judge.


I suspect you may be thinking of the "Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT)" which was not a US only effort - it had judges from the UK, US, France and the Soviet Union, indeed the President of the Tribunal was Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, a UK judge.

After the International Military Tribunal there were US-led trials at Nuremberg but there were lots of different sets of trials held by the Allies in their parts of Germany and also by countries like Poland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsequent_Nuremberg_Trials

NB The IMT was in the US zone and did benefit a lot from the material support of the US.


Of course the IMT was a joint effort, it was unthinkable not to be; still, the initiative was mostly American (and from Soviets, to be honest, always sensitive to a bit of good propaganda). Churchill (with other "traditionalists") was much more inclined to old-school measures.

It turns out that the IMT was a fantastic idea, probably a bit too successful -- it made more difficult for nation states to (ab)use their military forces, at least until the end of the Cold War.


Interesting; the way non westerners thought about this was the Nuremberg trials as victors' justice. From that perspective, nothing America has been doing since then has been contradictory.


Indeed! Exactly to avoid that charge, Allied policymakers and judges went to great lengths to ground their accusations on solid and universalistic reasoning, that could be "reused" later. Without Nuremberg, international institutions like the UN would be even more powerless than they are now.


> Exactly to avoid that charge, Allied policymakers and judges went to great lengths to ground their accusations on solid and universalistic reasoning, that could be "reused" later.

I am not denying that happened. My point was that only the losing side was punished; you didn't see Roosevelt or Churchill taking the stand for the Dresden bombings? Neither did Hirohito get punished for Japan's part in the war. Realpolitik always prevailed. In fact, let us even take Iraq to this day, the UN thing that Powell did was a farce. However, did anyone get punished for that? I don't see Powell or Bush or Blair in a criminal court.


They still made sure nobody in their own countries could go after them for stepping over international law. That is an important factor, because it shows that even "imperial" power is now aware (and somewhat afraid) of the new legal framework and must take it into consideration.


Current US foreign policy is short-sighted. There is more to power than force.

When the brightest minds of the young Latin American population in 5-10 years time ponders an international career in the US or China, things like this will nudge a few more people to China instead. This could make a huge difference in the long-term. Big leaps can be made by relatively small teams of people.


Is it even useful to talk about 'US foreign policy' anymore? I mean, I generally hold Conspiracy theorists in marginal disdain, but aren't we seeing the machinations of a shadow authority usually beyond the concrete knowledge of the electorate in operation?

Either it's incompetence, or ruse, or a 'not-giving-a-fuck' if we know that the intelligence agencies are above the law and can act with near global impunity.

whelp. I should shut up. Probably?


There is the good part of US government staffed by great people. One example is the State Department. I imagine they are furious over this. Then there is the shadow, rogue part which is the intelligence community, full of people with paranoid delusions who will skirt the law at-will because it's for "national security."


Would that be the same State Department who sent Powell to make a fool of himself at the UN? Ok, maybe not exactly the same people, but still. The malaise is much more widespread than you think, in government and in the electorate.


Powell was the Secretary of State so I don't see how the Department itself could "send" him. He served at the pleasure of the President, who asked him to do it.


The Department provides an army of analysts and bureaucrats to support the Secretary, and its their responsibility that he doesn't make a fool of himself on the public stage by using incorrect or false data. It's well known that a lot of them did, in fact, push back on some of the absurdities contained in the initial documents provided by intelligence agencies [1], but when it became clear that most of the material was of that sort, they should have smelled a rat and should have told Powell the risk was too high. Your boss losing any credibility on the political and international stage is the worst possible scenario for any SD official.

[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/15/nation/na-powell15


It is policy. Large swaths of the active US electorate hold their military as a sacred institution since the late '80s. The intelligence apparatus is an offshoot of that same military and enjoys the same privileges. Until the role of the US military as a whole is put into question, nothing will change. That's a political and a cultural problem, the sort of problem that political organizations are supposed to bring up and try to fix.


domestic policy too, the land of the free isn't so attractive to the potential immigrant as it once was. I don't think China is going to be filling the void though.


China does not have to win for the United States to lose.

The talented person might go to Europe, or to Canada. Or he might stay home and contribute towards the economy of his native land.


that doesn't make it right..


You are right, that doesn't. But history won't remember that. History will consider the powerful and the victorious as right. There's no Karma checker.


History may now be being written by different people than in previous eras. In oz, 100 years or so of pro British army brainwashing was undone with one line in one movie.. shoot straight, ya bastards.

its not about karma. what is right resonates.


Thanks for your response.

I humbly disagree with you though. There are many instances where heinous acts by the powerful have gone unpunished. Many of them by the US and Britain. They have had no repercussions on the perpetrators because of power.


What movie was this? I'd like to hear more about this.



This is the Digital Age, not the age of the scribes. History will be laid out in much more excruciating, and correct, detail. People might have to do some work to find the right pieces in the sea of information, but it will be there for those that want to know the truth.


We are setting a great example for China.


True, but a statesman realizes that you gather more power the less you use it.


I can think of several historical examples that would seem to definitively disprove this.


They would seem to not disprove it at all, seeing as they're "historical".


Everybody dies.


Strong organisations don't.


It seems to me that as far as international rules go it's not an "abuse" of power. National airspace is, after all, national. You can refuse entery to a foreign president if you damn well please. (High ranking official have a very limited liberty of movment since every deplacment abroad is subject to authorisation of the receiving country.)

On the other hand once you have authorising them to cross your airspace usually grants them extra-territoriality. Meaning that for an reglementary standpoint you can't force a plane to land and search it. (No suspending authorisation once the plane is in the airspace, and you can't search the plane because it is considered foreign territory.

(note this is what i understand of this matter, and may not be exact)


An interesting through experiment is to imagine if one day Air Force One were on its way to Argentina and just before it reached the continent, every country in Latin American denied it entry as in collective show of solidarity.


Given the resources available to the US they'd probably just have a fuel carrier divert its route and do an inflight refueling, an operation which Air Force One is very capable of.


The Spanish were denied to search the plane, for the record.

Edit: I inaccurately wrote Austrians.


    Austrian journalist tells me: Bolivia did not give
    permission to have Morales' plane searched, but airport
    policeman allowed to walk through

    — Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) 12:00 PM July 3, 2013
"Walk through?" If it turns out snowden was hiding in a cupboard millenium falcon style I might actually die laughing.


Turns out my suspicion was right. But I had nothing at that point to confirm it.

Still, Bolivia's story is slowly falling apart.


Please at least read the article before you comment.

They did indeed search the plane.


They did search the plane according to the foreign ministry's Twitter https://twitter.com/Minoritenplatz8/status/35232163910871449...


I am not sure that makes sense anymore, considering that Spain is denying they ever denied the plane entry.[0]

[0] http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_23590259/snowden...


AIUI France and Portugal denied entry, so they landed in Spain for fuel. Corrections welcome.


They are still flying to the Canary Islands to refuel: http://www.flightradar24.com/ (FAB1)

Updated at 14:40 UTC: landed at Las Palmas.


Are you sure about the code? I am getting some plane over Canada.


That was the Callsign code. Well, at least it was working for me back then.


The full code is FAB-001.


Reference?

The article claims:

> Morales refuted speculation that Snowden had stowed away on the plane and allowed authorities to conduct a search.


You mean they denied they searched the plane, or they tried to search the plane and were denied?


I hate this happened, it's a black eye to those who hold this country to a high standard and love it. However, if you know you have to travel through various allies of your enemy - don't let your plans be known if it undermines their agenda. You WILL be a target.

There's a line you have to draw between keeping it real and getting it done. What's going on a gross misuse of power - but President Evo knew who he was going against when he publicly made note that he would consider Edwards asylum application.


Blame Canada?




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