If people that have been carefully vetted for security clearance are willing to risk their freedom and perhaps even their lives to bring to light abuses of government power we should protect them.
We all know this is a big word to make headlines and influence people to be in favor of extreme laws. No country has ever been destroyed by Terrorism. Terrorism is, before all, a political tool. That's why States finance terrorist actions (the archives are full of that) to reach political means.
George Orwell, 1984
Perhaps in the accidental leaks back when the password for all those diplomatic cables leaked?
Or is the only way they facilitate terrorism that they make the public mistrust the authorities?
So far it seems no-one who has leaked information has had the clearance to get to the truly painful stuff, but the psychological screening to get to those levels is specifically designed to keep potential Snowdens and Mannings out.
Snowden and greenwald had damaging information, but chose not to release it. I think instead of dealing with hypotheticals, which can be twisted to frame absolutely anyone for 'potentially aiding the enemy' when the enemy is a fluid and vague terrorist label, and aid is exposing gov wrongdoing by releasing information, we should deal in specifics.
If snowden's revelations are damaging enough to endanger lives, the onus is on the prosecution to demonstrate that in front of an impartial judge. If they can't, or hide behind state secrets, their actions are not fully accountable to the public.
Is US support for the mujahideen, contra and Syrian terrorists more damaging than snowden's revelations and more likely to lead to terror attacks worldwide? I'd argue yes.
Is this war on whistleblowers and principled leakers more damaging to our democracy than any revelations which have yet come out? I'd argue yes.
Seriously, the fact that information can be used by terrorists doesn't imply that it should be secret.
But in this case, he's referring to Miranda's case. Miranda was in _possession_ of the leaked documents, he did not steal them himself. Besides that he is clearly (in service of) a journalist.
Are we to prosecute journalists for possessing secret information no one knows of, that they haven't even leaked yet? Aren't the Snowdens and Mannings already punished enough to deter any selfish leaker?
This implies that the reason nobody has leaked such things is because it's too high in the security clearance hierarchy and therefore nobody of good conscious has been near it. The reality is much more likely to be a result of compartmentalization rather than "making it high enough security clearance" such that few can reach it - as if getting higher security clearance grants you access to more and more information. Even at the highest levels of clearance, you can only see what it is deemed necessary for you to see.
"The Terrorists" are "The Reds" are "The Jews". It's not "us and them" because there is no "us" and "them". There's just "us".
Without a trial, there is NO VERDICT. The entire point of the judiciary is to adjudicate - and without their judgment, in legal standing (which is what, y'know, laws, such as those being proposed, are based upon), there is no fact, nor precedent.
There's no doubt in my mind that Mickey Mouse and the Legion of Doom carried out the 9/11 attacks. I mean, who needs a trial or a legal process to reach a conclusion about a legal matter?
Of course not. We should obviously have a trial before passing sentence on any individual, but it's ridiculous to suggest that legal judgements are the only valid way to establish facts about a particular situation. There were no trials relating to 9/11 because anyone who could have been sentenced is either dead or in another country. So suggesting that a trial be used as the burden of proof in this case is preposterous.
You are correct in saying that particular example (9/11) cannot be be tried in court. Sometimes the perpetrators are obvious and sometimes it's impossible to follow established court proceedings to legally appoint the blame.
But the former poster is also correct that we shouldn't go around passing judgements without taking matters to court and giving all parties a fair opportunity to prove their case.
This is the problem that the government face, they do occasionally need special powers to combat unusual circumstances. The problem is knowing where to toe the line. In my opinion, they've hop, skipped and jumped over that line.
I do not see what other proof there is, and basing LAWS on "well, it was probably these guys" does not strike me as a wise course of action.
We pass judgement on others all the time without any trials. Note the discussion currently going on about us intervening in Syria. Also a trial really isn't the be all end all for rendering judgement. The 9/11 Commission Report wasn't factual enough?
There is no discussion to be had. International law is perfectly clear as to what actions should be taken.
The Chemical weapons angle just blows my mind. The US use the argument that Israel can have, and use, if they fancy it, nuclear weapons, because they have not signed the NPT. They then go on to say that Syria can't use chemical weapons, because they haven't signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.
In a nutshell, the only legal actions available are the deployment of UN peacekeepers, or none. If you ignore the Rule of Law selectively, you have no law.
The 9/11 commission report wasn't factual, no, and is widely acknowledged as such. It's also not a binding legal decision based on evidence and facts, nor was there any trial by peers. Just summary justice in absentia, and indefinite detention without trial. I'm not just talking the THF crowd. It's a thousand pages of back-patting and rah-rah. I mean, if you want to understand just how good the gov't is at assessing its own actions, disasters, or anything else, really, look at Feynman's involvement in the Challenger investigation.
The stability and security of a well-ordered society demands conformance to certain social norms and limits on behaviour. These limits must be upheld even in the face of rising food insecurity, income inequality, and economic distress.
The protection of civil order requires the enforcement of conformance to behavioural norms, which in turn demands that that we crack down on destabilising influences, both in traditional and digital/distributed media.
Fortunately, modern digital tools allow the state to monitor and control discourse, behaviour and thought as never before. These tools must be exploited to their full potential, and dissent and nonconforming behaviour - in all it's forms, must be detected, isolated, and crushed immediately.
For example, forums such as this one are hotbeds of dissent - anarchic and destructive cess-pits of ideological filth that lead our vulnerable and easily influenced youth astray.
The state must identify the minority of subversive participants in these forums who are actively encouraging dissent -- and must silence them, for the good of a well-ordered society.
He's asking to restrict the sharing of information, supposedly information on how "the government fights terrorism". He glosses over the fact that once law enforcement can persecute people for sharing some information, it is incredibly easy to persecute people for the sharing of _any_ information if it choses to. Power creep is a scary and dangerous thing, and it is very hard (impossible?) to guard against it.
Reference for illegality of the war: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_the_Iraq_War
I think there is going to have to be a look at what happens when someone with a huge blindspot implies we should make a law about something they clearly don't understand.
How does he propose that we keep a check on the state to make sure that it is not abusing its powers? Did he omit to mention this obvious flaw in his proposal, or is it an omission of the journalist reporting on what he said?
Or was it the journalists interviewing him? Or the guardian reposting it? Just arrest the lot and let the juries sort them out!
To the Statist, there is no such thing. A state's purpose is to exude power, for it is not a benevolent beast but it is a malevolent. The end-goal of a state will always be the curtailment of all other power that can be used to remove its power.
Is it a "flaw". Surely it's impossible to have a system where the state retain information as secret that yet has third-party oversight and doesn't require the populous to trust a person in power (the third-party).
It seems more to be an outcome or corollary than a[n unexpected] error or "flaw".
Reduce the need for secret information.
However, over-classification tends toward the abuses you fear.
What he's saying is unacceptable, but I fear many in the governments think like that right now, which why extreme outrage over this is so important.
Ian Blair is a Life Peer, not a politician. The UK's House of Lords is not a democratic institution even in pretense.
Such as? Why should the state have a higher expectation of privacy than its citizens, if it's representative of them?
You see, the thing is, as soon as you say "well, clearly X needs to be secret", you open the avenue for all of the unintended, unforeseen uses of said secrecy.
The only solution, as far as the state is concerned, is to have no secrets. Undercover police/intelligence work would be obviated by not defining economic and social systems which engender the kind of behaviour that mandates such in the first place.
Yes. And when they leave, abandoning the infant child that they had with a member of the protest group. Yes, that happened.
== What. The. Fuck.
> Lord Blair told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme: "The state has to have secrets – that's how it operates against citizens.
Top Secret should not be an excuse to undermine the law, the rights of individuals, and the Constitution of the United States. Those who witness such crimes have the duty to come forward to the public. By keeping quiet and turning a blind eye to crime, one partners with it.
Crime grows in the dark while the light of day exposes it. Freedom requires transparency. A war on whistle-blowers is really a type of barometer as to the amount of freedom that we really have.
If you ever wondered why so many people have been campaigning for an elected second chamber in the UK, now you know.
Given how existing legislation is abused I would hate to see how that could be used. What if I've read something secret that I shouldn't have - would I be commiting Thought Crime?
The OSA primarily covers how you handle secret information that you legitimately have access to. He was talking about stuff outside the scope of the OSA - i.e. when you acquire material that you shouldn't have to start with.
Many pieces of data can be used for such purposes. Its precisely the innocence of the victims and the innocuous and everyday nature of the means, that is the purposes of this new bloody sport.
THE TERRORISTS WENT TO FRIGGIN FLIGHT SCHOOL.
We taught them how to fly a guided missile into a FRIGGIN SKYSCRAPER.
We gave the STUDENT VISAS.
The current leaks are only outside of the scope of OSA because Snowden isn't a civil servant of the UK. It appears Blair wants to prevent the publication of all information considered highly embarrassing - er, I mean, 'damaging to national security' - regardless of where it came.
Secrecy allows the state to do a lot of things.
No-one (except maybe Julian Assange) is arguing that the State shouldn't have secrets - the recent leaks occurred not as a blow against secrecy but to expose State wrongdoing. That's why it's whistleblowing, and not just vandalism.
Guys like Blair like to pretend that they're fighting for the government's right to keep secrets, which no-one is seriously challenging; they run shy of addressing the specific secrets exposed - be it military misbehaviour against civilians, civil servants deceiving lawmakers and so on.
First thing's first, we need to redefine what constitutes terrorism, otherwise this situation will only get worse.
* making it a crime for officials to use anti-terrorism provisions without a serious enough ground (this poses the problem of legally defining "serious enough")
* nullifying any legal procedure which uses anti-terrorist laws yet doesn't yield a terrorist indictment (Today, sticking a terrorist charge on an investigation just gives free super powers to judges and cops; with this caveat, making terrorist claims would become an all-or-nothing gamble, which would be used much more carefully)
Point 1: The definition of what is "serious" would be so watered down and full of political rhetoric that anyone, at any time could be found to be a 'serious threat'.
Point 2: This would simply increase the amount of 'terrorism' convictions, and may actually lead to a quicker trials and harsher sentences --- surely the police and prosecution wouldn't bring a charge to MY court unless it was serious! Look at the new law that makes it so!
The issue is that the people using the powerful tools are also the same people allowed to write the checks and balances. . . .
I get that the leaks could potentially give an advantage to terrorists, but if they're so smart they're following the leaks with baited breath and reworking their tactics, the likelihood is they're probably already avoid using channels that they believe are compromised. If they're using channels that are compromised they're probably too ineffective to pull off a large scale terror attack.
I don't believe they blocked any large scale stuff we don't know about. If they did, they would be shouting it on the rooftops, to show how effective and necessary they are.
The press is still massively powerful in the UK, and even more so in the United States, where the First Amendment still holds relatively strong. More importantly than any legal protection, civil society won't stand for it.
I think I've made clear through previous comments that, by HN standards, I'm slightly to the right of the Kaiser on SIGINT to prevent terrorism. Large scale persecution of the press would be enough to get even me to consider switching sides.
There are things considered to be "tenants of democracy." Press freedoms (independence, access, source anonymity) political rights (secret ballots, right to organize, rights to protest). People actively claiming those rights is seen as a sign of health for democracy. If a government is harassing journalists, finding out people's vote or preventing political protests we immediately see this as an attack on democracy. These are protected by public opinion (formed over generations), courts and basic/fundamental/constitutional laws, usually old ones. They are not protected by governments.
If the definition of "leak" or whistleblower is left to governments (pretty much any current government in the world), they will define them as some variant of "traitor" or "terrorist."
In order for a distinction to be made between someone who makes information available to The People and someone who make information available to The Enemy, courts need to be involved. They need to have basic laws to lean on.
BTW, I think that distinction is incredibly clear. All the cases under discussion made information available to the US public (and in some cases the subjects of other governments). They were primarily of interest to the US public. I believe independent courts would be able to make that distinction easily.
Sure there's stuff that's reasonable to keep secret (in my opinion), but if this is identified as such that just weakens the case for any of it being secret.
This describes journalists and news organizations unless his proposed ratchet-tightening carves out clear and bold exceptions, which are, by definition, not clear, bold, or easy to define in this age of new media.
I personally, coming from admittedly a position of ignorance where I don't know what secrets may or may not exist and what their implications may or may not be, have trouble picking a side. As we don't know the secrets, any opinion we take on them, other than a general one, is purely emotional.
Laws that revolve around preemptive action to prevent something that's already illegal (war on terror, gun control) offer marginal benefit at the cost of making life difficult for those who wouldn't have violated the laws already in place.
Like in software, security that relies on closed source is in fact more vulnerable.
What a surprise.
Stop having state secrets that 'principled' people will want to leak!
"Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, often violent, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no legally binding, criminal law definition. Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror); are perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war. The use of similar tactics by criminal organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism, though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group. The writer Heinrich Böll and scholars Raj Desai and Harry Eckstein have suggested that attempts to protect against terrorism may lead to a kind of social oppression.
The word "terrorism" is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. Studies have found over 100 definitions of “terrorism”. The concept of terrorism may be controversial as it is often used by state authorities (and individuals with access to state support) to delegitimize political or other opponents, and potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may be described as "terror" by opponents of the state)."
- wikipedia, at the time of writing
Deputy minister, what do you believe
is behind this recent increase in
Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless
minority of people seems to have
forgotten certain good old fashioned
virtues. They just can't stand
seeing the other fellow win. If
these people would just play the
game, instead of standing on the
touch line heckling
In fact, killing people
In fact, killing people they'd
get a lot more out of life.
We PULL AWAY from the shop to concentrate on the shoppers.
Helpmann's voice carries over the rest of the scene.
Mr. Helpmann, what would you say
to those critics who maintain that
the Ministry Of Information has
become too large and unwieldy... ?
David... in a free society
information is the name of the
game. You can't win the game if
you're a man short.
""What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter."
No one said we're going to become Nazi Germany, but Nazi Germany also didn't appear out of thin air. There were a series of actions and evolution at the state level that eventually provided the necessary preconditions for Nazi Germany to exist. I'm sure that what ended up being Nazi Germany was one of several path that Germany could have taken given those necessary preconditions that permitted its existence. We don't know what those other paths are, one of those paths could be where we end up instead. What is known, is that this ever widening gap permits individuals, possibly several acting in concert and possibly in the belief that they are doing the right thing to exert undue influence upon the political decisions of the country for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. The two wars we have become embroiled in unnecessarily are prime examples of such acts.
We probably won't become Nazi Germany. But there is nothing going on that suggests that we won't become something that is a democracy or republic only in name, and that the will of the people and the rights of individuals simply become inconsequential. I personally have no reason to believe that we will become Nazi Germany, but I have every reason to believe that we are becoming a nation that no longer protects my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens and that we are becoming a nation that protects the self interest of the few at the expense of the self interest of the many... us.
Hitler didn't invent antisemitism. Martin Luther clearly envisioned a genocide of Jews, in what was one of Hitler's favorite books. 
Eugenics was bigger in the U.S. than anywhere else.
The U.S. even invented modern nationalism, and it clearly remains more popular here than anywhere else in the western world. (Though, at least originally, this was tempered by the idea that Enlightenment ideals were universal, though admittedly, "Freedom" and "Liberty" are now just empty newspeak)
Sadly, this was the vision promulgated by western propaganda, as the notion that a civilised group of people could end up where Germany ended up was unconscionable, and incomprehensible to most - and this visage is still stuck in the mind of most as "how NAZIsm happened", rather than the very slippery, very real slope they found themselves tumbling down.
Sadly we really don't even need those experiments to show we are also capable of such atrocities. Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo Bay, Extraordinary Rendition, WWII Japanese Internment camps and other examples from our history show that we already have.
Godwin's Law is well rooted in basic human nature.
Yes, there are parallels between UK in 2013 and Nazi Germany in 1933. Scary parallels. People who know their history understand that authoritarianism and fascism tend to take hold within a relatively short amount of time. In Germany for example, the Nazi party was formed in 1920, came to power in 1925 and within a decade it was implementing racist and nationalist policies all over the country. We all know what that led to.
That United Kingdom?
Propaganda is good for motivating people, it's not good for making rational, informed decisions (indeed, it's point is to bypass rational decision making by applying to emotional cues).
The truth is, they were an entire country of people, with varying and diverse opinions on everything. The fact that we elevate them to this position does not make us less likely to follow their path, by viewing them as so distinct from us, it makes us more likely. There's a little Nazi in all of us, and the sooner we come to terms with that, the better we'll be at noticing and taming it.
It's frightening how close we are to that place.
Growing up in the U.S., we were all taught the history of our country, which included Benedict Arnold. But very few see a parallel to Benedict Arnold in Snowden. They cannot see how someone whose main claim to fame in the press has been, "They are watching you!" has exposed state secrets. Neither do they think Julian Assange is Benedict Arnold. Julian is just posed as a well-meaning but much misled Australian hacker that probably got framed in a rape case and is on the run, like a modern day Frank Abagnale, but with state secrets instead of fake checks.
The fact is, our governments need respect in order to keep secrets better, but prosecuting and hunting down these people is not the answer, neither are other "control" techniques. They just need better security. If they had better security, I for one would respect the fact that they said, "Oops! I guess I left the playbook in front of the press tent. I guess I should keep it on my person at all times."
There is no 'other team' and the coach is paranoid. He keeps the playbook secret from his own team, suspecting any one of them may be playing for the other side, which does not exist. No games are scheduled anyway, but still he insists on spying on them and recording all the details of their private lives in his secret playbook.
One day one of the team finds the playbook and is horrified at what their coach has been doing behind their backs...
I mean, you just have to look at pretty much every other team sport out there: none of those have secret playbooks. The team is smart enough to work together to determine the best course of action, sometimes taking the advantage, sometimes responding to the loss of that advantage.
So what we have is one sport out of dozens that has a particular quirk, and then we use that weirdness to justify what the government is currently doing?
The only thing that's unique about football is how much complexity they can factor into each play since they've got 11 players to work with and there's a stoppage before each play during which they can regroup and coordinate.
Our elected officials are analogous to Joe Paterno as they try to hide the truth and deny the wrongdoing.
Respect, both for governments and individuals, must be earned. Many Americans still do trust the US Government, but Snowden's revelations have caused many to question that trust. When we watch our leaders (Obama, tech leaders, etc.) deny responsibility and show no interest in doing anything about the actual crimes that the leaks revealed, we rightly lose trust and respect for our government.
How about a simple workflow before marking something Top Secret?
1. Did we break the law?
-> Yes -> End: don't mark Top Secret; call the police and have responsible parties arrested.
-> No -> End: mark Top Secret.
-> Maybe -> End: don't mark Top Secret; call the police and have responsible parties arrested.
And we could use the same workflow for encountering already Top Secret docs. In fact, that's exactly what Snowden and Manning did. Not sure what the fuss is about: they're whistleblowers, so we should all be happy and all see a lot of DoJ guys in vests escorting NSA guys from datacenters in handcuffs (or gals).
1. Did we break the law?
-> Yes -> GOSUB Modify_Law_To_Make_This_Legal -> End: mark Top Secret.
This is eerily similar to the manner in which our own surveillance state is also driven by the profit motive - ordinary people paying for the profit-driven private companies that subject them to surveillance -- and in the process, keeping us all in a state of abject terror of the hidden dangers from which we are being "protected".
Hmmm... how much is it like a protection racket? Indeed, look at what happens to the people who want out?
Jokes aside, I don't think comparisons to football game are apt. Most people are simply not interested in competing with people in other countries, at least not any more than in competing with their own elites in government and elsewhere. So it's not like we are all one happy team inside the state.
That actually does happen in most sports though. Football (Soccer) coaches announce the line up and formation. In fact in most team sports you know who's going to be playing and who's on the bench before the match starts. In F1, you know which cars are carrying more fuel or planning for more pit-stops. And even with sports popular for gambling (eg horse racing) you are given the history of horses races, it's trainer and the jockey riding it.
Sports are seldom played with any kind of secrecy - the only exception being games likes Chess or Poker and even in those cases, everyone is on a level playing field with access to the same information, it's only the individual players strategy and their bluffs that's kept secret.
I can understand and even agree with governments not announcing secret agents, what locations they're going to raid or even what specific information they've collected on genuine suspects. The problem is their entire operation is done in secret and they indiscriminately monitor the entire worlds population. This is more than just hiding your next move, this is a gross abuse of power and with the officials well aware that they're on legally dubious ground which is why they're so keen to keep even the general overview of their operations a secret. And ironically, in doing so they turn people into terrorists because any form of direct opposition to their operations - regardless of how reasonable the individual is being - and anyone who dares expose such activities are automatically added to the "naughty list". It's become a self fulfilling prophecy because they're now classifying innocent people as terrorists just to hide the fact that their operations have spun out of control.
Maybe you are not familiar with American football; replace "players" with "coaches" and that's exactly how it works.
Who said Helpmann was crazy? He's perfectly sane and rational, from his frame of reference. So are our governments. The issue arises when the subjective reality in which ones leaders reside and the subjective reality in which you reside are radically disconnected, which makes decisions and actions made by either side seem irrational and scary.
I'd argue that governmental secrecy is bad, in all its forms, as it always ends up being abused, from the perspective of the cit. I understand your point, but it's demonstrably the case that secrecy begets secrecy, which begets corruption.
I stand by my parallel of Brazil, for we do not exist under a brutal, evil, autocratic government, nor under a consciously designed society intended to be "better", but instead under a self-sustaining zombie bureaucracy that no longer connects to the world it governs, and in fact is attempting to reshape the subjective reality of others to suit its own ends - which are, in fact, none, other than perpetuation of the status quo and hegemonic systemisation of anything which conceivably can be - which was the crux of Brazil.
However, while Mr Snowden's conduct was admirable, there will be some people out there interested in state secrets, with the intent of malice. With the intent of doing harm to the government, the state, people working for the government/state or the people of that state.
I agree that secrecy is bad, but I feel we must at least have some secrecy, but clear and public requirements for when something can become (or remain) secret.
The precedent case for this law happened during the cold war, and was about a newspaper that published a counter-espionage report (Case: NJA 1988 s. 118²).
The military argued that the national safety was damaged by the publishing, but would not give any details because of the nature of doing national security work.
The court made two tests to decide the case. Did the information deserve to be classified under secrecy, and was the damages reported by the military believable. On the first, they said it was doubtful, and on the second they said a straight no. Case dismissed.
To me it sounds as very clear and public requirement, which would work fine in both Snowden's and Manning's cases.
1) Please note that this is only about publishing secrets. Breaking a contract or an oath can and is likely to be punished under different laws.
But regardless, that is a decent enough requirement system. The military refusing to present evidence in the case also hurt their argument, which is how it should be.
Anyway, the point is that if I don't know what Snowden leaked, I bet most people don't know either.
Military coups are the outcome of a disconnect. Whether that disconnect lies between the people and the government, or the government and the military, varies.
But fundamentally, no, the government should not trust the military, nor the military the government, as the two should be at odds, for otherwise the military have no distinction from the police - and the police no distinction from the military - and then you find yourselves in a scary place indeed.