Another Fox/Henhouse Routine

August 23, 2013

Spying-phoneYipee! It’s Friday!
Overcast a little bit up here on California’s north coast, but we’re on the cusp of a weekend so the weather is just a prelude to joyful two days away from the public.

And the public sucks — at least down the manhole of private affairs.
President Obama’s vow of an “outside” and “independent” review panel to investigate the NSA bullshit, is in itself pure bullshit/whitewash, and will this before-mentioned American public allow this kind of arrogant, sweep-it-under-the-rug approach to keeping clean government snooping.
If there is such a thing.

Young people know — most disable tracking devices downloaded via apps, a fright-move away from being watched.

(Illustration found here).

Beyond those pesky teenagers, Obama continues his spin out of manual control. A second term filled with nothing but shit-storm after shit-storm, and this latest NSA-panel travesty is on par. The president, with the vital organs of George Orwell spattered off in the curb, promised a couple of weeks ago to empanel an august group to review intelligence gathering.
He crowed a “high-level group of outside experts” would check it out and make this public feel better.
Bull (cough) shit!
From the Guardian:

However a report by ABC News, which has not been denied by the administration, said the panel would consist of Michael Morell, a recent acting head of the CIA, and three former White House advisers.

In addition to Morell, who was deputy director of the CIA until just three months ago, the panel is believed to consist of former White House officials Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire.

Sunstein, a Harvard law school professor who has been described as an intellectual inspiration for Obama, only left his job as White House’s “regulatory czar” last year.
Sunstein is a particularly controversial appointment.
In a paper in 2008, he appeared to propose the US government employing covert agents to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and activist websites that advocate theories that are considered false and conspiratorial.
He has also proposed reformulating the first amendment, arguing that in some instances it goes too far in protecting damaging forms of speech.
He is married to Samantha Power, the former White House adviser whom Obama recently appointed as US ambassador to the United Nations.
Richard Clarke, the fourth member of the panel, is a well-known and sometimes outspoken figure in the intelligence establishment who served as a senior White House adviser to the last three presidents.

“This group is very closely related to the White House already,” said Mark Rumold, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“When we go down this road of having executive branch insiders continually placed in charge of reviewing the executive branch, it is more of a fox guarding the henhouse situation.”

Apparently, Peter Swire the only ‘legitimate‘ member for such a panel:

A recently appointed professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Swire has is a privacy expert, and fellow at two liberal think tanks: the Center for American Progress and the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Leslie Harris, president of the CD&T, described Swire’s appointment as a “home run” for privacy groups.

Only time will tell what this group will conclude, or if anything.

Marcy Wheeler adds her judicious thoughts on the panel:

Frankly, a lot of people are investing misplaced confidence that Richard Clarke will make this committee useful.
While he’s good on a lot of issues, he’s as hawkish on cybersecurity as anyone else in this country.
And as I keep pointing out, these programs are really about cybersecurity.
Richard Clarke is not going to do a damned thing to rein in a program that increasingly serves to surveil US Internet data to protect against cyberthreats.

And remember, a big mandate for this committee is not to review the programs to see if we can make them more privacy-protective, but simply to increase our trust in them.
Which goes to the core of what Sunstein was talking about in his paper: using covert government propaganda to, in this case, better sell covert government spying.

And on top of all this, another spying apparatus has been uncovered.
This time via the UK’s Independent (not the Guardian):

Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.
The station is able to tap into and extract data from the underwater fibre-optic cables passing through the region.
The information is then processed for intelligence and passed to GCHQ in Cheltenham and shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.
The Government claims the station is a key element in the West’s “war on terror” and provides a vital “early warning” system for potential attacks around the world.

The Middle East installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region.
All of the messages and data passed back and forth on the cables is copied into giant computer storage “buffers” and then sifted for data of special interest.

In the sense of what’s been coming out from Ed Snowden’s deep computer pockets, there is no end of the snooping.
The US government and its participants (not the voter/people) in the recent past have been chewing the lying fat at least six times, upchucking shit that the Snowden disclosures later proved to be phoney-baloney.
Trust is not a word I’d use with Obama and anything that pops out of his mouth — he’s shown to be anti-henhouse.

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