by A. Richard Miller
visits since 140708; last updated 140708.

[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.]

Hi, Friends:

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

by J. Appelbaum, A. Gibson, J. Goetz, V. Kabisch, L. Kampf, L. Ryge

The investigation discloses the following:

  • 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 authoritarian states.
  •  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".

"Linux Extremist" T-shirtThe 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. Short form:
  • 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:
Those 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.

from the fighting-to-remain-independent Internet, this new quotation by Paul Craig Roberts:
Americans don't 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 terrorism.

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. A
s 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),
--Dick <TheMillers@millermicro.com>