LESS-INDEPENDENCE DAY 2014
A. Richard Miller
3212 visits since 140708; last
[I sent a version of this to friends on the Fourth of
July, 2014. Hours before, we all learned what many of us had assumed:
that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States of America
targets Linux fans as "extremists" and thus doesn't just collect (as it
does from everybody) but specifically monitors their information
traffic. Hence, this minor act of patriotism.]
It's the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in the USA. Our party
has been postponed to tomorrow's promised great weather, while we're
waiting for the worst of Hurricane Arthur to complete its work here
tonight and blow on up the coast.
So here I am, taking it easy instead of partying, thinking upon
Independence with a capital-I (you know, "the American way"), - and
re-reading a German publication's late-yesterday breaking news about
yet another NSA leak and its meaning:
Here is its introduction:
NSA targets the privacy-conscious
J. Appelbaum, A. Gibson, J. Goetz,
V. Kabisch, L. Kampf, L. Ryge
The investigation discloses the
- Two servers in Germany - in Berlin and Nuremberg - are
under surveillance by the NSA.
- Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing
software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark
and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are
German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that
privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
- Among the NSA's targets is the Tor network funded
primarily by the US government to aid democracy advocates in
- The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks
all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email
service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also records details
about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system
users called "the Linux Journal - the Original Magazine of the Linux
Community", and calls it an "extremist forum".
The Linux community was quick
to respond, reviling and ridiculing the NSA.
Don't just stop with this chuckle. That German article is
five pages of bad news, it's serious, and it's all worth reading.
It also led me to read about the Five Eyes countries.
- Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the
FVEY have been intentionally spying on one another's citizens and
sharing the collected information with each other in order to
circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on spying.
- Despite the impact of Snowden's disclosures, the
general consensus among experts in the intelligence community holds
that no amount of global outrage will affect the Five Eyes
relationship, which, to this day, remains the most powerful espionage
alliance in world history.
Sadly, yes. A large and international
team of extraordinarily-empowered liars and thieves (for that is the essence of the job
description), brought to you by Republicans and
Democrats alike, now is
under the control of no country. It monitors all Internet traffic and
more, and it specifically targets innocent individuals and groups for
the least of suspicions.
I've heard that before. If you agree that it reads badly here, imagine
how much worse it reads overseas. Every one under surveillance,
innocent groups targeted as suspicious, flag-waving patriotism invoked
as a shield against democratic controls - or any controls. Shades of Hitler
Germany, and Stalinist Russia. That's America, today - and also, the
United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Why doesn't sharing
the blame make me feel any better?
Three quotes will help. First, this old one by Benjamin Franklin:
who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have,
nor do they deserve, either one.
Ben surely would add, were he alive today, that giving up your Internet
security for more Internet freedom (a common NSA sales pitch) won't
work any better.
Then, from the fighting-to-remain-independent Internet,
this new quotation by Paul Craig Roberts:
understand that terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of
Rights, or the Constitution. Terrorists are not anything like the
threat that we face from our own government in the name of fighting
And lastly, Helen Reddy's:
We know too much
to go back and pretend.
Thank you for sharing my thoughts and quotes for - and about - our
American Less-Independence Day. We're lucky to know; we're unlucky to have
it to know, and thus to have to know it. As Americans who
value Independence, we have a lot to set right. Or we can
shut up and be "good citizens" for NSA and Big Business, rather than
for Ben Franklin and America.
From a proud "Linux extremist", with cheers for America's past, current and future
patriots (and not for the flag-wavers who so cynically misnamed and
misdirected the un-American USA PATRIOT Act),
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