New fit to reality

June 9, 2013

tower_of_babelA little overcast, and a bit more chilly this Sunday morning on California’s north coast, and already I’ve been drinking in enough InterWeb-shit on leaking bad stuff and whistleblowers in general, making the pointing out of a crime, worse than the crime itself.

And right-off the bat (via HuffPost): Confirmation that the NSA filed a “crimes report” came a few hours after the nation’s spy chief, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper launched an aggressive defense of a secret government data collection program. Clapper blasted what he called “reckless disclosures” of a highly classified spy agency project code-named PRISM.
In-laid — this ‘crimes report’ goes from the NSA to the Justice Department, which is already on a leaker-seeker crusade right now, to determine whether an investigation is warranted, or how big the inquest, but: U.S. officials said the NSA leaks were so astonishing they expected the Justice Department to take the case.

(Illustration: M.C.Escher’s ‘Tower of Babel‘ found here).

And this is even more astonishing:

Meet Deric Lostutter, a 26-year-old cybersecurity consultant who also goes by the moniker “KYAnonymous.”
Lostutter obtained and published tweets and Instagram photos in which members of the Steubenville High School football team joked about an incident in which a 16-year-old girl was raped.
Lostutter’s actions inspired a group of people to take justice into their own hands.
A hacker called “Bobcat” vandalized the Facebook page of the Steubenville football team.
Other hackers took similar action.
It’s unclear if Lostutter participated in any hacking shenanigans, but if he’s indicted and found guilty of any, he faces 10 years in jail.
By comparison, the Steubenville rapists received one- and two-year sentences each.

These disclosures last week of NSA telephone/Internet snooping wasn’t a shock to the system, seemed logical considering how the Obama administration since day one has acted like George Jr., aided and guided by The Dick and associates, going-all hush-hush on a ‘dark side’ approach to life in the age of the perpetual “war” on a concept of terror.
And in the not-so-long run, the reality-terror is the crazy system of crime and punishment. Despite the deep implications of what the NSA and its associates have been doing in watching over us by watching over us is how society reacts, and from what I’ve gathered, both from national news and from the local general public (customers of the liquor store I manage) the feeling is astonishment, but with a shrug-like inevitability of ‘what can you do?
A point in that direction came from Think Progress on Friday and long-term effects of all this watching/spying/culling bullshit — but not directed at George Orwell, but actually French social theorist Michel Foucault, which seemed to fit:

A citizenry that’s constantly on guard for secret, unaccountable surveillance is one that’s constantly being remade along the lines the state would prefer.
Foucault illustrated this point by reference to a hypothetical prison called the Panopticon.
Designed by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the Panopticon is a prison where all cells can be seen from a central tower shielded such that the guards can see out but the prisoners can’t see in.
The prisoners in the Panopticon could thus never know whether they were being surveilled, meaning that they have to, if they want to avoid running the risk of severe punishment, assume that they were being watched at all times.
Thus, the Panopticon functioned as an effective tool of social control even when it wasn’t being staffed by a single guard.
In his famous Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that we live in a world where the state exercises power in the same fashion as the Panopticon’s guards.
Foucault called it “disciplinary power;” the basic idea is that the omnipresent fear of being watched by the state or judged according to prevailing social norms caused people to adjust the way they acted and even thought without ever actually punished.
People had become “self-regulating” agents, people who “voluntarily” changed who they were to fit social and political expectations without any need for actual coercion.

And we slide through with the always-expanding phrase, “the new normal,” to explain life’s quirky little turns nowadays in just about every situation/narrative, from TSA exploits at airports, to weather explosions, to fear of pressure cookers — we mutate to fit the life.
And what makes it way-more worse is the bullshit chatter from the halls of power. From Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss to Obama himself — no worries, we’ve all known about this shit, and there’s all kinds of safeguards, with the president brushing off the fright: “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 per cent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience.”
But…what if you’re fudging?

Three months ago, the above-mentioned James Clapper did indeed fudge, and greased the pan, too.
Paul Woodward at War in Context on Friday:

On March 12, at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper answered: “No, sir.”
And Wyden reiterated the question, “It does not?”
Clapper responded: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect — but not wittingly.”
As can be seen in the video clip above, Clapper’s body language seems to say much more than his words.
He literally squirms and bows his head as he issues his denial.
His discomfort in being pressed to answer this question is transparent.
In an interview with National Journal on Wednesday, Clapper squirmed and equivocated even more: “What I said [before the Senate committee] was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails.
I stand by that.”
What is implied in both of Clapper’s qualifications — that data is not collected ‘wittingly’ nor are e-mails viewed ‘voyeuristically’ — is that data gathered on millions of Americans is not systematically subject to human analysis.
But that’s irrelevant and almost certainly a willful deception since in the absence of any human analysis, vast databases can be created and massive amounts of machine analysis performed through which electronic data gathered on the bulk of the population can be used to construct and operate a social surveillance system of unparalleled scope and detail.

Modern life can be read near-about as some weird, science-fiction novel from the 1970s. Shit like that ain’t/can’t be for real.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.