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Ed Webb

Drone warfare's deadly civilian toll: a very personal view | James Jeffrey | Comment is... - 0 views

  • Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the west as a result of President Obama's increased reliance on drones. When surveying the poisoned legacy left to the Iraqi people, and what will be left to the Afghan people, it's beyond depressing to hear of the hawks circling around other theatres like Pakistan and Yemen, stoking the flames of interventionism.

    I fear the folly in which I took part will never end, and society will be irreversibly enmeshed in what George Orwell's 1984 warned of: constant wars against the Other, in order to forge false unity and fealty to the state.

  • in Afghanistan, the linguistic corruption that always attends war meant we'd refer to "hot spots", "multiple pax on the ground" and "prosecuting a target", or "maximising the kill chain".
  • encroachment of drones into the civilian realm is also gaining momentum. President Obama signed a federal law on 14 February 2012, allowing drones for a variety of commercial uses and for police law enforcement. The skies above may never be the same. As with most of America's darker elements, such as its gun culture, there's profit to be made – the market for drones is already valued at $5.9bn and is expected to double in 10 years.
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  • Technological advancements in warfare don't have a good track record in terms of unintended consequences
Ed Webb

Glenn Greenwald: How America's Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear | Civil Li... - 0 views

  • The Surveillance State hovers over any attacks that meaningfully challenge state-appropriated power. It doesn’t just hover over it. It impedes it, it deters it and kills it.  That’s its intent. It does that by design.
  • the realization quickly emerged that, allowing government officials to eavesdrop on other people, on citizens, without constraints or oversight, to do so in the dark, is a power that gives so much authority and leverage to those in power that it is virtually impossible for human beings to resist abusing that power.  That’s how potent of a power it is.
  • If a dictator takes over the United States, the NSA could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.
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  • Now it’s virtually a religious obligation to talk about the National Security State and its close cousin, the Surveillance State, with nothing short of veneration.
  • The NSA, beginning 2001, was secretly ordered to spy domestically on the communications of American citizens. It has escalated in all sorts of lawless, and now lawful ways, such that it is now an enormous part of what that agency does. Even more significantly, the technology that it has developed is now shared by a whole variety of agencies, including the FBI
  • Now, the Patriot Act is completely uncontroversial. It gets renewed without any notice every three years with zero reforms, no matter which party is in control.
  • hey are two, as I said, established Democrats warning that the Democratic control of the Executive branch is massively abusing this already incredibly broad Patriot Act. And one of the things they are trying to do is extract some basic information from the NSA about what it is they’re doing in terms of the surveillance on the American people.  Because even though they are on the Intelligence Committee, they say they don’t even know the most basic information about what the NSA does including even how many Americans have had their e-mails read or had their telephone calls intercepted by the NSA.
  • "We can’t tell you how many millions of Americans are having their e-mails read by us, and their telephone calls listened in by us, because for us to tell you that would violate the privacy of American citizens."
  • An article in Popular Mechanics in 2004 reported on a study of American surveillance and this is what it said: “There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras now deployed in the United States shooting 4 billion hours of footage a week. Americans are being watched. All of us, almost everywhere.” There is a study in 2006 that estimated that that number would quadruple to 100 million cameras -- surveillance cameras -- in the United States within five years largely because of the bonanza of post-9/11 surveilling. 
  • it’s not just the government that is engaged in surveillance, but just as menacingly, corporations, private corporations, engage in huge amounts of surveillance on us. They give us cell phones that track every moment of where we are physically, and then provide that to law enforcement agencies without so much as a search warrant.  Obviously, credit card and banking transactions are reported, and tell anyone who wants to know everything we do. We talk about the scandal of the Bush eavesdropping program that was not really a government eavesdropping program, so much as it was a private industry eavesdropping program. It was done with the direct and full cooperation of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and the other telecom giants.

    In fact, when you talk about the American Surveillance State, what you’re really talking about is no longer public government agencies. What you’re talking about is a full-scale merger between the federal government and industry. That is what the Surveillance State is
  • The principle being that there can be no human interaction, especially no human communication, not just for international between foreign nations but by America citizens on American soils that is beyond the reach of the U.S. government.
  • at exactly the same time that the government has been massively expanding its ability to know everything that we’re doing it has simultaneously erected a wall of secrecy around it that prevents us from knowing anything that they’re doing
  • government now operates with complete secrecy, and we have none
  • governments, when they want to give themselves abusive and radical powers, typically first target people who they think their citizens won’t care very much about, because they’ll think they’re not affected by it
  • what has happened in the last three to four years is a radical change in the war on terror. The war on terror has now been imported into United States policy. It is now directed at American citizens on American soil. So rather than simply sending drones to foreign soil to assassinate foreign nationals, we are now sending drones to target and kill American citizens without charges or trial. Rather than indefinitely detaining foreign nationals like Guantanamo, Congress last year enacted, and President Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act that permits the detention -- without trial, indefinitely -- of American citizens on U.S. soil.
  • this is what the Surveillance State is designed to do.  It’s justified, in the name of terrorism, of course that’s the packaging in which it’s wrapped, that’s been used extremely, and in all sorts of ways, since 9/11 for domestic application. And that’s being, that’s happening even more. It’s happening in terms of the Occupy movement and the infiltration that federal officials were able to accomplish using Patriot Act authorities. It’s happened with pro-Palestinian activists in the United States and all other dissident groups that have themselves [dealt with] with surveillance and law enforcement used by what was originally the war on terror powers.
  • if the government is able to know what we speak about and know who we’re talking to, know what it is that we’re planning, it makes any kind of activism extremely difficult. Because secrecy and privacy are prerequisites to effective actions.
  • we are training our young citizens to live in a culture where the expect they are always being watched. And we want them to be chilled, we want them to be deterred, we want them not to ever challenge orthodoxy or to explore limits where engaging creativity in any kind. This type of surveillance, by design, breeds conformism.  That’s its purpose. that’s what makes surveillance so pernicious.
  • f you go and speak to communities of American Muslims is you find an incredibly pervasive climate of fear.
  • This climate of fear creates limits around the behavior in which they’re willing to engage in very damaging ways
  • it makes people believe that they’re free even though they’ve been subtly convinced that there are things that they shouldn’t do that they might want to do
  • the psychological effects on East German people endure until today. The way in which they have been trained for decades to understand that there are limits to their life, even once you remove the limits, they’ve been trained that those are not things they need to transgress.
  • Rosa Luxembourg said, “He who does not move does not notice his chains.”
  • You can acculturate people to believing that tyranny is freedom, that their limits are actually emancipations and freedom, that is what this Surveillance State does, by training people  to accept their own conformity that they are actually free, that they no longer even realize the ways in which they’re being limited.
  • important means of subverting this one-way mirror that I’ve described is forcible, radical transparency. It’s one of the reasons I support, so enthusiastically and unqualafiably, groups like Anonymous and WikiLeaks. I want holes to be blown in the wall of secrecy.
  • There are things like the Tor project and other groups that enable people to use the internet without any detection from government authorities. That has the effect of preventing regimes that actually bar their citizens from using the Internet from doing so since you can no longer trace the origins of the Internet user. But it also protects people who live in countries like ours where the government is trying to constantly monitor what we do by sending our communications through multiple proxies around the world that can’t be invaded. There’s really a war taking place: an arms race where the government and these groups are attempting to stay one tactical step ahead of the other. In terms of ability to shield internet communications from the government and the government’s ability to invade them and participating in this war in ways that are supportive of the “good side” are really critical as is veiling yourself from the technology that exists, to make what you do as tight as possible.
Ed Webb

Obama and the Age of Surveillance | Indypendent Reader - 0 views

  • “Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter.'”
  • To be fair, the US government has given significant contributions to the research and development of free speech and anonymity technologies, such as the Tor Project.[26] Technologies created and fostered by the US government have been invaluable in the fight for freedom all around the globe. After all, it was the US military that created the precursor to the internet, called ARPANET.

    But without the ability to be accountable for its own crimes, and to protect the rights of those in opposition to its own policies, the US continues its greatest tradition of hypocrisy. The Obama administration lifts up the struggles of those fighting its enemies with one hand, while attacking those who speak up about injustices of US-sponsored regimes with the other. All the while, it is slowly and secretly building up its omni-present police state at home.

Ed Webb

We've Only Got America A - NYTimes.com - 1 views

  •  
    Cyberpunk has been predicting this stuff for a long time...
Ed Webb

Hechinger Report | What can we learn from Finland?: A Q&A with Dr. Pasi Sahlberg - 1 views

  • If you want to learn something from Finland, it’s the implementation of ideas. It’s looking at education as nation-building. We have very carefully kept the business of education in the hands of educators. It’s practically impossible to become a superintendent without also being a former teacher. … If you have people [in leadership positions] with no background in teaching, they’ll never have the type of communication they need.
  • Finns don’t believe you can reliably measure the essence of learning. You know, one big difference in thinking about education and the whole discourse is that in the U.S. it’s based on a belief in competition. In my country, we are in education because we believe in cooperation and sharing. Cooperation is a core starting point for growth.
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