The next NSA Revelation

The (expected by those of us who have been watching) revelation on how NSA watches you is published. You can read it in The Guardian. While there is some technical info, the article is mostly the training information for NSA system users on how to look you up.

While the legal debate continues with regard to spying on Americans without a warrant, it has already been stated that it is okay if one part in a conversation is not American. For those of us living outside the U.S. it seems clear that we will appear to be non-American because our IP address is Nicaraguan.

While you might expect you would be protected because you might be a victim of an illegal search, that seems unlikely. It's a lot like getting pulled over for having a broken headlight and the police noticing what looks like illegal drugs on your back seat.

In particular, the article addresses some denials by Congresscritters.

"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."

Well, after reading this article, it will be clear to everyone -- even Congresscritters -- that Snowden was not lying.

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German interview with Snowden

The German TV network just did a 30 minute interview. Apparantly the interview is quite popular around the world but it seems it is being suppressed in the US. The story and a video is available on

It's an excellent 30 minute interview. Besides discussing the leaks it tells a lot of the history of Edward Snowden. I think his "history" will surprise most people.

In contrast, this was treated as a major political event in both print and broadcast media, in Germany, and across much of the world. In the interview, Mr. Snowden lays out a succinct case as to how these domestic surveillance programs undermine and erode human rights and democratic freedom.

At the end of the interview, Snowden talks about how the charges against him (in particular, under the Espionage Act) does not allow him to face the music. I valid and very interesting point.

He's having an effect in Canada

Yesterday the head of CSEC had to appear before the Canadian senate defence committee to answer questions. A transcript should be available on-line and it was also live tweeted by reporter Kady O'Malley, @kady on twitter.

Mr. Snowden Will

be walking along the Moscow River one beautiful summer evening humming Подмосковные вечера when someone pushes a pellet of ricin into his butt.

It will probably be one of his Russian handlers. Every intelligence service in the world despises the man, and that includes the Russians. He's a momentary convenience, but they are not sentimentalists like we in the west are. When he's no longer useful, they will flush him for us.

Good Riddance to a traitor.

Snowden now has asylum [updated]

Snowden is now officially a refugee. He now has one year temporary asylum in Russia.

There is now a Wikileaks statement on Snowden's asylum.

Very informative

. . . particularly the 2008 slide show on XKS. Only slide 21 was redacted but I could easily see why (slide 20). Gov't acronyms are the keys to the vault on Google. Looking up 'PGP + national security' turned up lots of interesting shit.

But 'TAO' (slide 23) led me to NSA's office of 'Tailored Access Operations' which is apparently an inner core of hackers at the 'Agency' (Ft Meade) that, according to Wiki "identifies, monitors, infiltrates, and gathers intelligence on computer systems being used by entities hostile to the United States." Ahem.

Further digging found a 'Foreign Policy' article published 7 weeks ago that stated, "TAO has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People's Republic of China." It may seem awkward at a time when the Obama Admin. was complaining about all those Chinese Army hackers looting the USA's computers, but it makes me feel good that America wasn't caught flat-footed. Besides, who enjoys watching a game where the score is kept secret?

NSA calls these operations computer network exploitation, CNE. True, TAO could be used for a cyberattack against an enemy, to destroy telecommunications &c., but I see such 'war games' as strengthening the internet. It was certainly hard to see the cold war's nuclear arms race as beneficial in any way at the time, but it's been 70 years since the last world war. Now if only America's citizens can take back the reins of power. Perhaps with a little help from friends around the world?

This is interesting...

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."

The "US officials" deny Snowden could do it, but never denied the capabilities exist for them to do it. This is typical of a governmental non-answer. Shift the blame and don't worry about the facts.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Saying of the day

The world *IS* filled with unsavory characters, and dealing with them cannot always be done in the bright light of public disclosure.
Successful intelligence work is much like deli sausage... the end result is good, but you don't need to know the details of what went into it.

Obviously some will disagree. ;-)

Ooh, ooh, ooh!!! Me, me, me!!!!!!

There's a distinction between knowing what the government has the authority to tap, and knowing who and what it's tapping. Right now, we're having a major problem with the former, and a little problem with the latter (important opinions that are not subject to review or appeal to the Supreme Court).

what offends me

is the fact that government spokes people are saying this program is harmless and not a big deal. Then why was it classified? Why didn't the american people have the right to know?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

How could the

answer not be obvious?
Submitted by 1st Capt. Ron - what offends me is the fact that government spokes people are saying this program is harmless and not a big deal. Then why was it classified? Why didn't the american people have the right to know?
Why would the US have an espionage system if we are gonna tell our enemies how we spy on them?

This whole thing has been twisted into something the government claims it is not - Nefarious spying on our own citizens - All based upon Snowden's claims - There are absolutely no facts to prove his claims - A few vague slide shows without specific & detailed numbers that prove anything.

One proof of the pudding is the known fact - The patriot act was put into law about 12 years ago and at the time i thought Ashcroft was the worst enemy the US ever had - But now I don't see any proof of that. - We have had 12 years to collect factual data.
Question - In all these 12 years have there been any cases where an innocent US citizen not connected with terrorism here in the US here proved harmed by any intentional or accidental release of surveillance information? Joe blow down the street? Maybe I missed it.
Could there be better proof of the safety (or lack of safety) of this system than 12 years of actual history?

Claims have been made that this surveillance has resulted in quite a few cases of stopping bad guys - Both terrorists and regular criminals. Is this true? - NSA has promised details so maybe we will see some proof - Maybe not.

NSA Director Alexander just made a presentation to the Black Hat USA 2013 - The absolute ultimate collection of Geeks & security experts in the world. If anybody can analyze the situation these are the experts that can do it.
Other than being heckled several times by one guy he was reasonably well received:
The NSA Director told attendees of North America's leading security conference that he was at Black Hat to ask security professionals in attendance for their help, most especially if they felt the programs were wrong.

Near the talk's end, an attendee shouted that General Alexander should read the Constitution.
He responded saying, "I have. You should, too."
The General's retort was met with applause.
Lots of good reading there and more *Important* charts about his *claims* of limited surveillance. Did he prove anything - Only that somebody is lying.

Charts presented there including the one claiming the 54 terrorism plots around the world stopped.. There are several other charts in the gallery that state the opposite of the traitor Snowden's claims.

Do I or any others have proof of anything *one way or the other* on these issues? - I don't see it if it exists.
The word *claims* (or similar) would be more accurate than *proof* in most of these discussions.
Time will tell.

that was good

well said, and well argued

I worry a lot less about the government and the militarys abilities re any domestic spying than I do about their capabilities in keeping up and surpassing our competitors. Future wars are going to be all about technological prowess, not only do we need to keep up on what our friends and enemies can do, but we have to make sure somehow that we do much better than any of them. This where scumbags like whistleblowers come into play by giving away the ballgame. Snowden is a traitor , Manning is a Traitor, and Assange is a "enemy of the state".

scumbags like whistleblowers

you do realize that "scumbags like whistleblowers" actually follow the law and do nothing illegal? I guess trading freedom for security is not something people should worry about?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)


Submitted by 1st Capt. Ron - "scumbags like whistleblowers" actually follow the law and do nothing illegal?
Whistleblower Manning needs some serious legal advice:
...On February 28, 2013, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 specified charges. Military judge Colonel Denise Lind accepted the guilty pleas, for which Manning could face up to 20 years in prison
...Manning acknowledged having provided archives of military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks. He pleaded guilty to 10 criminal counts
...When the judge asked Manning to explain how he could admit that his actions were wrong, Manning replied, "Your Honor, regardless of my opinion or my assessment of documents such as these, it's beyond my pay grade – it's not my authority to make these decisions about releasing confidential files."

Pilger on Manning

You said

Whistleblower Manning needs some serious legal advice

I just read an article by John Pilger that seems to disagree with your assessment.

The critical moment in the political trial of the century was on 28 February when Bradley Manning stood and explained why he had risked his life to leak tens of thousands of official files. It was a statement of morality, conscience and truth: the very qualities that distinguish human beings. This was not deemed mainstream news in America; and were it not for Alexa O'Brien, an independent freelance journalist, Manning's voice would have been silenced. Working through the night, she transcribed and released his every word. It is a rare, revealing document.

The article makes additional points but just the fact that the only way Manning's own words get heard was thanks to an individual who will willing to invest the time to make them available. His whole trial was a big public relations game where most people only heard the government version. If his trial had been televised (it could have been described as a soap opera) I expect a couple of million rather than a couple of thousand people will be signing the petition to serve parts of his sentence.

Whistleblower Manning

Manning is not a whistle blower, he is a leaker, as well as Snowden.

Do not convict the innocent in your fervor to prosecute others.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Why doesnt anyone file a civil suit against Snowden?

Get the judgement, good for ten years (for the book deal money), and renew it every ten years for the sequel and movies etc. In Snowdens case they would sue the contractor and him.

The "Discovery" process would be interesting.

It might make a few with personal assets think before being a "Leaker" as Cappy now calls them.


I need to call him a leaker, as this is what he is. He did not contact the Office of Special Counsel ( ) to qualify as a whistle-blower. I know it is almost the same thing, but I bet Manning and Snowden know what the differences are now. I think Snowden should be prosecuted, but I still believe he had good intentions. Manning, I hold to a higher standard as he was in the military.

I am also still pissed the government is spying on it's own people.

Man, I need pick a side.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

There are multiple issues

What, unfortunately, is getting all the press is about what action needs to be taken against some individuals who have disclosed information they felt the public should know. Some of us will believe they did a necessary service. The debate will continue on what needs to be done to them for doing something currently considered illegal.

The other problem is what the government has done. That includes spying on its own citizens and lying about it/covering it up. Clearly, lying to Congress is a crime and should be punished. A court where what it does is secret and only one side gets to present their case is certainly constitutionally questionable.

The put your head in the sand approach doesn't work here. We all have new information about what the US government is doing and it seems like most of us don't like it. That is totally independent of what we think of the sources of that information.

Not really

.Submitted by 1st Capt. Ron - ...Man, I need pick a side.
As time goes on and more and more information comes out many times the right "side" changes - maybe even back and forth. Many times the truth comes out later in the game and picking a side early and sticking to it just makes you look foolish. Maybe going with the flow is the best thing.
You do jump around a lot in your snap judgements though ;-))

A business plan works the same way - You pick a side and the market changes you lose - That happens all the time in the tech world.
My bet it that the Canal plan, if it even gets financed and on the way, will change several times in that process.

I have always been

a fast decision maker. It really frustrates me to see study after study and thousands if not millions of dollars spent and still nothing get accomplished.But, as you said sometimes my snap judgments can have a downside.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

The irony here

...When the judge asked Manning to explain how he could admit that his actions were wrong, Manning replied, "Your Honor, regardless of my opinion or my assessment of documents such as these, it's beyond my pay grade – it's not my authority to make these decisions about releasing confidential files."

The irony here was that he was demoted from Specialist to Private First Class just 3 days before his arrest, according to Wikipedia.

Is that relevent?

I mean, are you saying that a "Specialist" could have released the information then? Is that the irony?


I wouldn't know enough about his roles, but he was at a higher level when he leaked than he was when he appeared in court. It's a pretty strange answer to the judge's question.

it's beyond my pay grade

or "it's above my pay-grade" is a typical military saying to acknowledge that a person does not have the authority to make a decision. Someone higher up the chain of command (a higher pay-grade) has the authority. A specialist or a PFC would have about the same authority. I doubt Manning rank was what was referenced. Instead he was referring to others higher in the chain of command.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Legal or ethical?

I really question a legal system that rewards liars and screws truth-tellers. This has always bothered me. Manning admitted what he did, possibly expecting a higher power (in this case, I am thinking the American people) to see him taking responsibility for his actions. It's the same as him electing for a judge instead of jury trial. His reward, so far, includes almost three years in prison including part under conditions considered torture.

Then, even though he addmitted to the actual crimes for which he could be sentenced for up to 20 years, that wasn't enough. That didn't make a big enough example of him. So, the trial continued. He was found innocent of one important charge -- the one that would have shut down investigative journalism in the US. So, he now only faces 136 years in prison.

While there will be appeals and such, the public speaking up should lead to a pardon, if Obama has the guts. But Obama needs to check what the NSA has on him, first.

Note that the legal system in Nicaragua gives you a shorter sentence for a crime if you admit doing it than if you go to trial and lose. Gee, that's even financially efficient.

Can't type...

Shaking my head too much...

Could be worse

Imagine if we were all at a barbecue together. :-)


If it is a big deal, then why did the government lie to us? I take this very personally. It either is a big deal and should be secret or it is not a big deal and shouldn't be secret. The cat is out of the bag and I do not like being lied to by the government.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Two issues

Why would the US have an espionage system if we are gonna tell our enemies how we spy on them?

how There is a big difference between saying you do something and saying how you do something. Many recent disclosures of the how have come out in order to disprove official lies.

enemies Who, exactly are those enemies? Based on what we know, U.S. Citizens appear to be on that list.

Yes in the

case of Clapper lying to Congress you obviously are right! - He did not prepare an answer to questions that he should have known would be asked - He ought be canned for stupidity if nothing else.
The government has to lie in many top secret things - All governments lie - The have been doing this since the start of time - They and all the US workers involved lie about secret defense programs all the time
This is going around in circles - We have been here before. Sometimes "That's classified" just does not work.

The rest of the "recent disclosures" did not prove or disprove anything - They were nothing more than claims with absolutely no proof that they were true - Same for all the information from NSA - The government can not prove or disprove many details and still run a secret program - The have described the checks and balances and Congressional & court oversight and that is about the limit of what they can tell.
US citizens on the list of enemies - That preposterous claim tells the whole story!
As I posted before - The *provable facts* are that in 12 years of surveillance no serious problems with US citizens personal security have been brought out.
Is that a fact or did I miss something? Which is more compelling - Facts like that or undocumented claims?

Today's best tweet

Xeni Jardin ‏@xeni 34m

“If recording your calls without playing them back isn't surveillance, downloading music without listening to it isn't piracy — @doctorow”

I wonder

if I can copyright all of my communications and then sure the government when they record me?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

I like it

Based on the current US legal system, it will probably work. I am actually going to share this idea with some friends.

ok but

I want 10% of all profits or legal awards!!!

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

No way!

I've got a patent on that idea!

Not really

Submitted by fyl - Well, after reading this article, it will be clear to everyone -- even Congresscritters -- that Snowden was not lying.
The only thing that article makes "clear to everyone" is the old expression - The first liar does not have a chance!
Somebody is lying - Either Snowden or all the large internet companies that have that information scattered all over the world on hundreds of thousands of servers. These companies still absolutely deny that NSA has unrestricted access to their servers and have successfully petitioned the government to allow them to release their details concerning PRISM requests.

The Guardian headline: XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'Is an obviously a false statement if it is taken to mean "every user" - The presentation says databases can be searched but there is no explanation or claims of how many people are in the databases.
The Guardian article shows a bunch of NSA slides along with Guardian spin and it is hard to separate the wheat from their inflammatory chaff typical of all newspapers.

The article contains many conflicting claims - Collection of such astronomical huge amounts of data that it can only be stored for 24 hours. And other databases to store "interesting" content for up to five years. Unlimited capabilities to collect information from all the large internet servers.

On the other hand NSA claims ...focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets ... necessary to protect our nation and its interests....widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true... Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA's analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks …multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring."
That the last statement is obviously false if any of the Snowden claims are true.
If a person wants to pick & choose he can claim any conclusion he wants from that article. If he accepts it in it's entirety he is just more confused.

One thing interesting - Those who are worried about big brother do not mention one quote from that article:"The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore."
They also fail to mention that these articles do not contain any claims or assertions that any individual has ever been harmed by release of any personal information or any actual use or misuse of personal of data from this surveillance whether accidental or intentional. Zero...Zip...Nada...
And they don't seem to be interested in the upcoming revelations from the internet companies that will provide actual detailed facts about PRISM requests.
Let's not mention anything that might shoot down all those black helicopters.
Efforts have already begun in congress to put more limits on data collection and especially more internal control of how this data is protected so that innocent citizens will not be harmed. Sounds good to me.

300 terrorists

"They also fail to mention that these articles do not contain any claims or assertions that any individual has ever been harmed by release of any personal information or any actual use or misuse of personal of data from this surveillance whether accidental or intentional. Zero...Zip...Nada... And they don't seem to be interested in the upcoming revelations from the internet companies that will provide actual detailed facts about PRISM requests."

No harm that we're aware of. Except for Anwar al-Awlaki. For clarity, I'm only defending his frakking constitutional right to a trial. Since when did the President get to unilaterally decide, based on his own administration's legal analysis, that he had the authority to determine when a US citizen is a combatant?

[Fun fact: Wikipedia says the US also killed Anwar's 16-year-old son, who by birth was also a US citizen. Same "authority" was, presumably, cited. Even Yahoo! has a decent article on the many problems with this approach, at]

My second point is that you can't depend on "good judgement" when lawyers are involved. The basic problem seems to be that a lawyer will have a goal, and set out to find a way to make the law help him in achieving that goal. Because judges, including the Supreme Court, tend to strongly favor deference to the government, the law gets stretched and permanently alters the national understanding of the law, without actually changing its wording. Google "Aaron Swartz" for more articles on this, but basically, the prosecution attempted to avoid trial by bullying Aaron with ridiculously inflated claims (because the law was designed to address *serious computer crimes* during the 80's, providing sentences up to 35 years for each infringement), and before the case went to trial, he killed himself.

The list of problems with the system goes on and on, as I'm sure you're aware (e.g. non-adversarial proceedings, cosmically low rejection rates [10 in 20,909], shifting and highly questionable legal authority, unnecessary secrecy [we survived the 90's and were more open about the NSA's capabilities then], overbroad data gathering, improperly sharing data with foreign intelligence agencies, etc.), but possible fixes would not have arisen without the attention brought to the issues through these leaks. We clearly need better protections for whistleblowers to report problems through the proper channels.

"...300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore."

I strongly suspect that what they mean is "data from this program ended up in the file on the President's desk when he made a kill decision that we believe saved lives." That does mean that the President would have made a different decision without this data. I think we'll hear more about these claims in the coming months.

"And they don't seem to be interested in the upcoming revelations from the internet companies that will provide actual detailed facts about PRISM requests." I, for one, am very interested in every article that comes out related to this leaks. I look forward to the debate advancing, and more policy issues being fixed. I also believe it's a mistake to generalize about broad groups of people. I'm not sure who "they" are in your paragraph.

Beyond that, all I can say is to remember the old saying, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Wanted : dead or alive

I was thinking about your statement about what gives the US Government right to kill American Citizens, and find this as a part of old English law. As it was adapted in the American west, it still could have been considered in effect still employed even up into the modern era with the FBI's killing of many of the top mobsters in the US back in the 30's. Bonney and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc they never made it into court.

By the rules of common law, a criminal outlaw did not need to be guilty of the crime he was outlawed for. If a man was accused of a crime and, instead of appearing in court and defending himself from accusations, fled from justice, he was committing serious contempt of court which was itself a capital crime; so even if he were innocent of the crime he was originally accused of, he was guilty of evading justice.

Interesting but no cigar

I think what you were looking for is not evading justice but resisting arrest. That starts at the level of local crime. In the example of Snowden, he was outside US jurisdiction and now had temporary political asylum (for one year). Asylum trumps, well, everything else. So, game over for at least a year but time for Congress and the judiciary to actually address the issues that have come out along the way.

Now, on to what I think offends so many -- the double standard. As simply an example, take the Abu Omar case. Here, Robert Seldon Lady, while operating in Italy under diplomatic cover carried out the abduction of a person holding an Italian asylum passport. He, and others involved, we tried in Italy and found guilty.

Lady was recently captured in Panama. The US said "pretty please" to Panama and they sent him to the US instead of Italy where he should be in jail.

This is but one example. Possibly the most famous is Luis Posada Carilles who is in Florida a free man instead of in jail in Venezuela for blowing up an airplane full of people.

It seems that some minority thinks everyone must follow the rules -- as long as they are the rules that benefit the US, almost universally at the expense of other countries.

Does this mean I think Russia is more democratic than the US? No (but feel free to ask me again in a few years). But, when you watch Russia obeying their laws (no extradition for anyone and granting asylum based on international guidelines) while the US government seems to be having a temper tantrum, it is pretty hard to respect the US side.


he has asylum in Russia only because Putin wants to milk it of all the propaganda value he can. The fact he has asylum does not make him any less a fugitive from American justice. It may take awhile but at some time and some place Snowden as well as Assange will meet their day in court, preferably an American court for both, and an American prison for many long years after.

As for the 'it is pretty hard to respect the US side" well, gee whiz ,FYL, we all know that you would never respect the US side of anything. You should have become a Cuban early in life rather than a disgruntled old American who made some money in the US and retired to Nicaragua to forever bitch about your native land afterwards

You lack of respect

Your lack of respect for Snowden and Assange have been previously noted. While your assertion about Putin may be true, we all need to remember the reason Snowden is stuck in Russia is because of US government actions. He had other asylum options. And the reason he has asylum is becfause of what today's US is doing in retaliation for leaks, Bradley Manning being the current best example.

As for the personal attack

  1. The US I grew up in was worthy of respect. The temper tantrum US of today is not. Attempting to get it back on track -- the the way the Constitution seems to suggest -- is quite different from being anti-American.
  2. Yes, I ran a business in the US and "made some money" (as did people who worked for me, our suppliers and the government.) Today, if I was going to start that same kind of business it would not be in the US. That is partly because I know more about other places to start businesses and mostly how the US has changed adding regulation on top of regulation and tax on top of tax which makes it very hard to start a small business.

lets start with the personal attack

The USA that both you and I grew up in has changed immeasurably since the 50's and the 60's.

We both have chosen to live abroad, not for dissimilar reasons. I came to Canada at age 21, whilst you retired to Nicaragua. I am assuming at around age 55 or so. I left because of the the homecoming I got after serving in the Vietnam war, and because of being at Kent State Massacre the day it happened. Your reasons other than general dissatisfaction I don't know.

In my case the downfall of Richard Nixon after my departure renewed my hope in America's future and in its success as a society. It is not and never will be a perfect democracy. I came to see that and so continue to be loyal to my country of birth, and after some 80 countries behind me I still believe it to be one of the most free, best-intentioned countries, in the world. Thats not withstanding people like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld getting into power occasionally, and groups like the right wing evangelical Christian Tea Party cum laude neo-nazis KKK getting into positions of power as well on occasion. It happens in the American system but every country has its right and leftwing politics. The US is no worse and no better than any other democracy on this planet. The worst countries are the ones which do not have democracy. I mentioned Cuba in relation to you because you often praise Cuba and its sychophants like Bolivia, and Venezuela, countries that while are obstensibly democracies in fact are not.

Now in the 6 years I have been on this board you have consistently, almost without a break, done nothing but denigrate the US and it's style of democracy. That is not an attack-that is a fact. I cannot recall you ever having a positive word on the place. Even back when Hurricane Felix hit Nicaragua's east coast and the US sent in a rellef ship to help you had some unkind words. So that I say you are anti-American it is because that is all I ever see. Your criticisms are not limited to just the actions of the US Government, but tend to demonize large parts, if not all of the US populace, as well.

The US Constitution was as it was originally written, constructed back in a time when the US was young nation with a minute population. It is a living document in that it can be changed and amended by acts of Congress and it is a flexible documant as well as that some things are left open to interpretation by the executive and judicial branches, as well as, by the legislative branch. It is not as some may see it a statement of things that are absolutes. Just as there is no perfect system of government,(including democracy), hence there is no absolute rights to total freedom nor to total transparency guaranteed anywhere in the Constitution- Not even in those so-called inalienable rights that form the Bill Of Rights.

Transparency in governments is usually a beneficial thing but that is truer in times of peace than it is in times of war. Absolute transparency has consequences which sometimes can prove fatal to nation states, but more often than not, its real damage is to public morale. And here is where we enter with your whistleblower crowd and the type of damage they do. Joe, the average citizen of a democratic nation, he is never going to understand it or approve of such things as say torture( as an example), unless, of course, he was to see his own life (or that of his family) immediately threatened, in which case most people are going to approve anything. As in most things, “it depends on whose ox is being gored.” If it's you and yours who come under direct threat then that equation changes everything that you may say about your otherwise highmindedness.

“War crimes!” the know-nothing crowds of people are always crying about. What the hell do they know about war? They aren’t there, they don’t see it, they don’t experience it, they sit in front of their boob tubes and read their slanted newspapers, and then they just set back and whine about it like they actually know anything about what time of day it is. And the newspaper and TV journalists-they have papers to sell, and TV ad money to rake in, and names to make for themselves; “sensationalism”, i.e. “yellow journalism” has always a big seller, they hope to win a Pulitzer so they will always be employed.

In the final analysis, I find the real guilt, the real tragedy, the real evil of war, to be a collective one for the conscience of all of mankind to bear. Practically every modern nation state, at some time or another, no matter what their political system or their ideological stance, no matter what their claims to moral superiority may be, have been guilty of war crimes, or of using techniques such as forcible interrogation ie. torture as a matter of secret, and, sometimes, not so secret, state policy. Everyone who bears the title of being a human being, even for those of us who eschew non-violence, and try to adopt a holier -than-thou persona, all stand equally guilty! Not a single person on this planet has clean hands. Still-like Pontius Pilate- that is no solace for those of us, who serve in our nations militaries, who have done your bidding and at your command killed our fellow human beings. It is the collective guilt of all of us-civilians-the State-humanity writ large-we all are the architects and we all are the creators of it all. It is not just the soldiers and the politicians- the real criminals are just your average ordinary run of the mill citizens who in your politics, your nationalisms, your greed, your malice toward others who are differnt , your racial supremacy, your religiosity, you are the ones who make the crime. War is the crime! And, we all are responsible for it, and all are equally guilty, every single living breathing human being on this planet. So maybe you ought to lighten up and quit just blaming the US for every bad thing that happens in this world.

Your whistleblowers are all guilty of theft, espionage, damaging the national interests of the United States governemnt, its people, and it's National Security, and, finally, of treason.

For another view on the whole mess

Bruce Sterling, who wrote The Hacker Crackdown, wrote this article.

"Julian Assange is still a cranky extremist with a wacky digital ideology, but he doesn’t have to talk raw craziness any more, because the authorities are busy doing that for him. They can’t begin to discuss PRISM and XKeyScore without admitting that their alleged democratic process is a neon façade from LaLaLand. Instead, they’re forced to wander into a dizzying area of discourse where Julian staked out all the high points ten years ago."

Fun article.

The US may not be as bad as other nations, but it's also the only nation where we as citizens have some possible leverage. I get tired of people living in the US becoming Tibetan Buddhists and fussing about China without knowing much about Tibetan history or having much real leverage in China.

Rebecca Brown