2013 August 03 Saturday
NSA Could Become Tool To Impose Total Tyranny

Senator Frank Church speaking about the US National Security Agency in 1975:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

That's from a New York Review Of Books essay by James Bamford on the NSA. Bamford has written a few books on the NSA: The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, and The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization.

Will America remain a free society? Look at the Obama Administration's willingness to selectively use the power of the IRS and FEC against the American Right. It is a sign of things to come.

Greg Cochran looks at why the spying agencies can get so much money from Congress: The politics of the military-intelligence complex. Short answer: Lots of inside the beltway people can get jobs in intelligence agencies. They do not have to be competent at what they do. Secret and very poorly done work is hidden from the public. We spend big money per terrorist.

A conservative estimate is that we’re spending a million dollars per year per terrorist, maybe more – that’s not even counting Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though if a larger fraction of NSA employees and CIA employees were competent then there'd be fewer competent people to work in the private sector.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 August 03 10:15 AM 

SlargTarg said at August 4, 2013 10:41 PM:

This is one of the reasons that I think the human era, as we know it, is coming to a close. The power of computers will make all of us obsolete.

I'm not even thinking about apocalyptic "Terminator" scenarios but simply how it would affect our own value to society.

Google is now making strong pushes into AI, one of the big products its now promoting is to use computers to replace human drivers.

The industrial revolution devalued human physical labor and we adapted by going into the knowledge economy.

What happens when machines think better than any human? Who then could possibly contribute to the economy when having to compete against those who own the machines?

At best we will be kept as some kind pet. There are far worse alternatives though that couldn't be resisted.

Check it out said at August 5, 2013 3:14 PM:

What we need is a worldwide revolution so that our Earth can finally give birth to a new human species above today's semi-intelligent homo-sapiens, that is starting to appear very primitive.


Check it out said at August 15, 2013 4:44 PM:

Americans will soon be locked into an unaccountable police state unless US Representatives and Senators find the courage to ask questions and to sanction the executive branch officials who break the law, violate the Constitution, withhold information from Congress, and give false information about their crimes against law, the Constitution, the American people and those in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Congress needs to use the impeachment power that the Constitution provides and cease being subservient to the lawless executive branch. The US faces no threat that justifies the lawlessness and abuse of police powers that characterize the executive branch in the 21st century.

Washington defines all resistance to its imperialism and tyranny as "terrorism." Thus, Americans who defend the environment, who defend wildlife, who defend civil liberties and human rights, who protest Washington's wars and robbery of the people in behalf of special interests, all become "domestic extremists," the term Homeland Security has substituted for "terrorist." Those who are out of step with Washington and the powerful private interests that exploit us, other peoples, and the earth for their profits and power fall into the wrong side of Bush's black and white division of the world: "you are for us or against us."

In the United States independent thought is on the verge of being criminalized as are constitutionally guaranteed protests and the freedom of the press. The constitutional principle of freedom of speech is being redefined as treason, as aiding an undefined enemy, and as seeking to overthrow the government by casting aspersions on its motives and revealing its secret misdeeds. The power-mad inhabitants of Washington have brought the US so close to Gestapo Germany and Stalinist Russia that it is no longer funny. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to see the difference.

The neoconservatives have declared that Americans are the "exceptional" and "indispensable people." Yet, the civil liberties of Americans have declined the more "exceptional" and "indispensable" that Americans become. We are now so exceptional and indispensable that we no longer have any rights. And neither does the rest of the world. Neoconservatism has created a new dangerous American nationalism. Neoconservatives have given Washington a monopoly on right and endowed its military aggressions with a morality that supersedes the Geneva Conventions and human rights. Washington, justified by its "exceptionalism," has the right to attack populations in countries with which Washington is not at war, such as Pakistan and Yemen. Washington is using the cover of its "exceptionalism" to murder people in many countries. Hitler tried to market the exceptionalism of the German people, but he lacked Washington's Madison Avenue skills.

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