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Hometown: Florida
Current location: Orlando
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 09:49 AM
Number of posts: 20,958

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Alan Grayson: attacking Syria is the "wrong decision," Obama "boxed himself in" w/the "redline"

Some here have been making a case for attacking Syria based on the notion that progressive leaders such as Alan Grayson are supporting it...based on nothing more than their silence in the media.

That's no longer a legitimate argument as heard in this interview with Sirius' The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt.


Important points in this interview:

-- chemical weapons allegations are unproven and "genuinely ambiguous"
-- there's no benefit to the Syrian government for killing these 200 citizens
-- conventional munitions also have the effect of suffocating victims
-- if CW were used, the victims would be dangerous to the rescuers; no report of rescuers effected by CWs
-- if they were going to use CWs they would be using them everyday and gloating about it
-- "dead people are dead people" - that chemical warfare presents an arbitrary "redline"
-- the US has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world -- dubious moral high ground
-- evidence must be UNEQUIVOCAL that the Syrian military used CWs and that there's a vital US interest
-- let's finish the wars we're already in
-- puzzling and disturbing the Obama administration is only putting out unsupported information RE the use of CWs
-- no desire in his district to be world's policeman (subject of my recent post here)
-- fwiw the manufacturer of the missiles we'd use against Syria, Raytheon, has seen a dramatic bump in stock value over last few days
-- nobody wants this except for the military industrial complex - the president should recognize and rise above the interests of the military industrial complex in this matter.

Posted by nashville_brook | Thu Aug 29, 2013, 11:25 AM (119 replies)

Obama taps "cognitive infiltrator" Cass Sunstein for Committee to create "trust" in NSA

This is an interesting development. Not sure how smart this is on the part of the White House/NSA/Clapper because it could undermine faith in pro-NSA voices and reinforce the perception that those advocating for weakened privacy and security are not independent.


Advocate of Secret Infiltration, Cass Sunstein, on Obama’s “Committee To Make Us Trust the Dragnet”
Posted on August 22, 2013 by emptywheel

ABC reports that, along with former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell, former Homeland Security Czar Richard Clarke, and former Obama special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire, the White House (or James Clapper — who knows at this point) has picked Cass Sunstein for its Review Committee on NSA programs.


In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

And remember, a big mandate for this committee is not to review the programs to see if we can make them more privacy-protective, but simply to increase our trust in them. Which goes to the core of what Sunstein was talking about in his paper: using covert government propaganda to, in this case, better sell covert government spying.

Well, if Obama and Clapper’s rollout hadn’t already discredited this committee, Sunstein’s selection sure does.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/08/22/advocate-of-secret-infiltration-cass-sunstein-on-obamas-committee-to-make-us-trust-the-dragnet/#sthash.HGsvq7ua.dpuf

Link to Greenwald's 2010 reporting on Sunstein:

Link to ABC news report on appointments:

Posted by nashville_brook | Thu Aug 22, 2013, 10:41 AM (215 replies)

"Journalists are terrorists...truth-telling is violence." I'm calling bullshit.

(h/t DirkGently from his comment here, with my own comments)

So. Threats of truth telling should be treated like threats of violence?

This is exactly the rationale applied by every despicable authoritarian regime in history.

He's too nice to say it, but I will. "The rationale" of "every despicable authoritarian regime," referenced here calls to mind some really nasty times in history such as:

Chile under Pinochet
China under the Chinese Communist Party
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge
Saudi Arabia under the House of Saud

And many more. Something they have in common is need to control information to protect their crimes. It's just too inconvenient to have reporters running around reminding people they're being spied on or worse.

This isn't to say that we're there, or even headed in that direction. I believe we're going in a completely different direction...but I'll save that for later.

Congratulations. This post bulls-eyes the absolute bottom of the philosophical barrel.

The argument that embarrassing the state with truthful information that is threatening only in its likelihood of raising the public consciousness of government wrongdoing is precisely the most anti-democratic, purely vile and evil sentiment possible, on not only the subject of press freedom, but as to civilization or government of any kind.

It's the absolute bottom of the philosophical barrel precisely because we're not any of these authoritarian regimes. Not even close. It's historically been a point of patriotism that we fought wars for our freedom, and ostensibly for the "freedom" of other countries (although, that's rarely true -- we fight wars in other places for resources).

Dirk hits the nail on the head when he says that the threat level of truth-telling is proportional to the wrongdoing of the governments threatened by it. This is plain as day to most people. Uncontroversial. In the civilized world we know that we fight to keep things transparent in order to keep things civilized and working for the people. Otherwise we get trampled. We see it on school boards, county commissions and in the U.S. Senate -- when we're locked out, that's when bad things happen (which, I thought was the whole point of electing Democrats...to keep things open, transparent, and working for the people).

This is how you get to dictators and genocide and everything else Americans and all decent people everywhere oppose.

Repellant. Filthy. Indefensible.

Like I said, we're not there now, but letting this djinn out of the bottle is NOT something that patriotic Americans cheer for. We're not subjects under King George. Our forefathers fought and died for these freedoms. It is filthy, repellant and indefensible to argue for their demise when they are figuratively written in blood in our Constitution.

I am deeply saddened and ashamed to see Democrats willing to dismantle that which makes us uniquely American. And for what? What is possibly so threatening about Greenwald, Gellman or the truth of the domestic spying program, that you would be willing to burn the Bill of Rights?

Shame. Seriously. We should all be ashamed of this.

Talk about being detrimental to the party: how fast will people run from the Democratic brand when they see party members proudly shouting to lock up journalists?

The good news is that we're talking about a tiny but noisy minority of voices carrying this repellant message. Together we're shining a light and turning down the heat on this nonsense. This shit isn't going to stick -- not if we have anything to say about it.

Posted by nashville_brook | Tue Aug 20, 2013, 10:28 PM (54 replies)

Greenwald's partner's detention is not convenient, hype or self-promotion.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Greenwald's partner's detention is not convenient, hype or self-promotion.
And no one needs to wait a 'couple of days' or even minutes to figure that out.

David Miranda's detention is an act of intimidation that will likely become a rallying point. The fact that some suggest it's a publicity stunt only proves how ludicrous the pro-NSA arguments have become. You see, it's just too "convenient." It's a set-up. You'll see..it's a devilish ploy.

There's a pattern here. When the NSA dragnet story broke is was derided by some as a "fake scandal." It was imagined to be a broadside aimed at the president, regardless of the fact that no rational commenter suggested that. It was imagined to be an attack on POTUS regardless of the fact that republican leaders took time out from bashing POTUS and the ACA to vigorously defend the NSA and their defense industry patrons.

When the story became larger to include layers of programs, contractors and countries, some said that it was all made up...it was all self-promotion...all to "sell" clicks for a media organization...and that it would "all blow over" when Greenwald and Snowden are proven to be liars, libertarians or leprechauns.

So when a member of Greenwald's family is detained under suspicion of "terror," this pretty much refutes the idea that this journo is not to be taken seriously -- because someone, somewhere is taking him very seriously.

What we're seeing emerge here is the criminalizing of investigative journalism. Miranda was held under Schedule 7 which is intended to ferret out suspected "terrorists." Here we see it used instead to intimidate someone suspected of making the intelligence establishment look bad.

This is a very big deal. It's bigger than partisan politics. It's bigger than the POTUS. It's time to get serious and stop with the comforting bedtime stories of hype and publicity stunts.

It's time to put away these childish things.


As an FYI here's some background on Schedule 7 which is the law that UK police detained Miranda under. From the ACLU press release:


Schedule 7 is the law that allows the police to detain anyone at the UK borders without any requirement to show probable cause and hold them for up to nine hours, without seeking further justification. The detainee must respond to any questions, regardless of whether a lawyer is present. No lawyer is provided automatically.

It is a criminal offence for the detainee to refuse to answer questions -- regardless of the grounds for that refusal or otherwise fully cooperate with the police.

According to the advice published by the Association of Chief Police Officers’, Schedule 7 should only be used to counter terrorism and may not be used for any other purpose.

A similarly over-broad and vague section of the Act which allowed stop and frisk without any grounds was held to be unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. Section 44 - as it was known - violated Article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights which protects privacy.

Posted by nashville_brook | Sun Aug 18, 2013, 08:13 PM (203 replies)
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