Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘When People With Guns Meet You At The Airport’

Homeland Security, Intelligence, Journalism, Literature, Media, Technology, Terrorism, The State, Uncategorized

The New York Times is playing catch-up. It is running an in-depth feature about Laura Poitras, the heroic woman who “helped snowden spill his secrets.” The article is by investigative reporter Peter Maass, who has done work for the NYT, but is not a insider. A subplot in the Snowden case, of course, is how corrupt US media was usurped and sidelined by necessity.

Here’s an excerpted from “How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets”:

This past January, Laura Poitras received a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key. For almost two years, Poitras had been working on a documentary about surveillance, and she occasionally received queries from strangers. She replied to this one and sent her public key — allowing him or her to send an encrypted e-mail that only Poitras could open, with her private key — but she didn’t think much would come of it.

The stranger responded with instructions for creating an even more secure system to protect their exchanges. Promising sensitive information, the stranger told Poitras to select long pass phrases that could withstand a brute-force attack by networked computers. “Assume that your adversary is capable of a trillion guesses per second,” the stranger wrote.

Before long, Poitras received an encrypted message that outlined a number of secret surveillance programs run by the government. She had heard of one of them but not the others. After describing each program, the stranger wrote some version of the phrase, “This I can prove.”

Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”

Poitras remained wary of whoever it was she was communicating with. She worried especially that a government agent might be trying to trick her into disclosing information about the people she interviewed for her documentary, including Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks. “I called him out,” Poitras recalled. “I said either you have this information and you are taking huge risks or you are trying to entrap me and the people I know, or you’re crazy.”

The answers were reassuring but not definitive. Poitras did not know the stranger’s name, sex, age or employer (C.I.A.? N.S.A.? Pentagon?). In early June, she finally got the answers. Along with her reporting partner, Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer and a columnist for The Guardian, Poitras flew to Hong Kong and met the N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, who gave them thousands of classified documents, setting off a major controversy over the extent and legality of government surveillance. Poitras was right that, among other things, her life would never be the same.

Greenwald lives and works in a house surrounded by tropical foliage in a remote area of Rio de Janeiro. He shares the home with his Brazilian partner and their 10 dogs and one cat, and the place has the feel of a low-key fraternity that has been dropped down in the jungle. The kitchen clock is off by hours, but no one notices; dishes tend to pile up in the sink; the living room contains a table and a couch and a large TV, an Xbox console and a box of poker chips and not much else. The refrigerator is not always filled with fresh vegetables. A family of monkeys occasionally raids the banana trees in the backyard and engages in shrieking battles with the dogs.

Greenwald does most of his work on a shaded porch, usually dressed in a T-shirt, surfer shorts and flip-flops. Over the four days I spent there, he was in perpetual motion, speaking on the phone in Portuguese and English, rushing out the door to be interviewed in the city below, answering calls and e-mails from people seeking information about Snowden, tweeting to his 225,000 followers (and conducting intense arguments with a number of them), then sitting down to write more N.S.A. articles for The Guardian, all while pleading with his dogs to stay quiet. During one especially fever-pitched moment, he hollered, “Shut up, everyone,” but they didn’t seem to care.

Amid the chaos, Poitras, an intense-looking woman of 49, sat in a spare bedroom or at the table in the living room, working in concentrated silence in front of her multiple computers. Once in a while she would walk over to the porch to talk with Greenwald about the article he was working on, or he would sometimes stop what he was doing to look at the latest version of a new video she was editing about Snowden. They would talk intensely — Greenwald far louder and more rapid-fire than Poitras — and occasionally break out laughing at some shared joke or absurd memory. The Snowden story, they both said, was a battle they were waging together, a fight against powers of surveillance that they both believe are a threat to fundamental American liberties.


UPDATED: “435 Ron Pauls in Congress”: If Only (The Huckster)

Debt, Elections, John McCain, Liberty, Ron Paul, Uncategorized, War

Ron Paul: “You have to be like Santa Claus and give them something; I want to give them their freedom back.”

“Ron Paul changed the conversation. Ron Paul was right. If we had 435 Ron Pauls in Congress, we would not have a national debt of $16 trillion.”

These, above, are excerpts from the 2012, RNC tribute to Congressman Paul.

The ghoul McMussolini is speaking now. He is calling for perpetual war under the guise of nation building and democratization, and for war in the cause of democracy as the obligation and hallmark of American greatness and justness.

Turn the sound off and on, off and on. You won’t miss a beat, as McCain beats the tom-tom for war, war, and more war.

What a crazed creep.

Rand Paul preceded McMussolini. Here is the text of his speech, courtesy of the Washington Post. Have at it on Facebook:

RNC 2012: Rand Paul delivers speech to GOP convention (Full Text)
Wednesday, August 29, 4:32 PM

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) remarks to the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29 in Tampa, Fla. , as prepared for delivery.

“When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the first words out of my mouth were: I still think it is unconstitutional!

The leftwing blogs were merciless. Even my wife said — can’t you please count to ten before you speak?

So, I’ve had time now to count to ten and, you know what — I still think it’s unconstitutional!

Do you think Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have changed their minds?

I think if James Madison, himself — the father of the Constitution — were here today he would agree with me: the whole damn thing is still unconstitutional!

This debate is not new and it’s not over. Hamilton and Madison fought from the beginning about how government would be limited by the enumerated powers.

Madison was unequivocal. The powers of the federal government are few and defined. The power to tax and spend is restricted by the enumerated powers.

So, how do we fix this travesty of justice? There’s only one option left.

We have to have — a new President!

When I heard the current President say, “You didn’t build that,” I was first insulted, then I was angered, then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the President of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way around.

Anyone who so fundamentally misunderstands American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation.

The great and abiding lesson of American history, particularly the Cold War, is that the engine of capitalism — the individual — is mightier than any collective.

American inventiveness and desire to build developed because we were guaranteed the right to own our success.

For most of our history no one dared tell Americans: “You didn’t build that.”

In Bowling Green, KY, the Taing family owns the Great American Donut shop. Their family fled war-torn Cambodia to come to this country. My kids and I love to eat donuts so we go there frequently.

The Taings work long hours. Mrs. Taing told us that the family works through the night to make donuts. The Taing children have become valedictorians and National Merit Scholars.

The Taings from Cambodia are an American success story, so Mr. President don’t you go telling the Taings: “You didn’t build that.”

When you say they didn’t build it, you insult each and every American who ever got up at the crack of dawn. You insult any American who ever put on overalls or a suit.

You insult any American who ever studied late into the night to become a doctor or a lawyer. You insult the dishwasher, the cook, the waitress.

You insult anyone who has ever dragged themselves out of bed to strive for something better for themselves or their children.

My great grandfather, like many, came to this country in search of the American Dream. No sooner had he stepped off the boat then [sic] his father died.

He arrived in Pittsburgh as a teenager with nothing, not a penny. He found the American Dream: not great wealth, but a bit of property in a new land that gave him hope for his children.

In America, as opposed to the old country, success was based on merit. Probably America’s greatest asset was that for the first time success was not based on who you were but on what you did.

My grandfather would live to see his children become doctors, ministers, accountants, and professors. He would even live to see one of his sons … a certain Congressman from Texas … run for President of the United States of America.

Immigrants have flocked to our shores seeking freedom. Our forbearers came full of hopes and dreams. So consistent and prevalent were these aspirations that they crystallized into a national yearning we call the American Dream.

No other country has a Dream so inextricably associated with the spirit of its people.

In 1982, an American sailor, John Mooney, wrote a letter to his parents that captures the essence of the American Dream:

‘Dear Mom and Dad, today we spotted a boat in the water, and we rendered assistance. We picked up 65 Vietnamese refugees. … As they approached the ship, they were all waving and trying as best they could to say, ‘Hello America sailor! Hello Freedom man!’ It’s hard to see a boat full of people like that and not get a lump somewhere between chin and bellybutton. And it really makes one proud and glad to be an American. … It reminds us all of what America has always been — a place a man or woman can come to for freedom.”

Hung and Thuan Tringh are brothers and friends of mine. They came to America on one of those leaky, over-crowded boats. They were attacked at sea by pirates. Their family’s wealth was stolen. Thuan spent a year on a South Pacific island existing on one cup of rice and water each day until he was allowed to come to America. Now both of these men and their families are proud Americans. Hung owns his own business and Thuan manages a large company. They are the American Dream.

So, Mr. President, don’t go telling the Tringh family: ‘You didn’t build that.’

When the President says, ‘You didn’t build that,’ he is flat out wrong. Businessmen and women did build that. Businessmen and women did earn their success. Without the success of American business we wouldn’t have any roads, or bridges, or schools.

Mr. President, you say the rich must pay their fair share. When you seek to punish the rich, the jobs that are lost are those of the poor and middle class.

When you seek to punish Mr. Exxon Mobil, you punish the secretary who owns Exxon Mobil stock.

When you block the Keystone Pipeline, you punish the welder who works on the pipeline.

Our nation faces a crisis. America waivers. Unfortunately, we are one of a select group of countries whose debt equals their gross domestic product.

The republic of Washington and Jefferson is now in danger of becoming the democracy of debt and despair. Our great nation is coming apart at the seams and the President seems to point fingers and blame others.

President Obama’s administration will add nearly $6 trillion dollars to our national debt in just one term.

This explosion of debt is unconscionable and unsustainable. Mr. President, we will not let you bankrupt this great nation!

Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed.

Republicans and Democrats must replace fear with confidence, confidence that no terrorist, and no country, will ever conquer us if we remain steadfast to the principles of our Founding documents.

We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights. We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women.

To thrive we must believe in ourselves again, and we must never — never — trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security.

Author Paul Kengor writes of a brisk evening in small-town Illinois. Returning home from a basketball game at the YMCA, an 11 year old boy is stunned by the sight of his father sprawled out in the snow on the front porch. “He was drunk,” his son later remembered. “Dead to the world…crucified.” The dad’s hair was soaked with melted snow, matted unevenly against the side of his reddened face.

The boy stood over his father for a minute or two. He simply wanted to let himself in the door and pretend his dad wasn’t there. Instead, he grabbed a fistful of overcoat and heaved his dad to the bedroom, away from the weather’s harm and neighbors’ attention.

This young boy became the man – Ronald Reagan – whose sunny optimism and charisma shined so brightly that it cured the malaise of the late seventies, a confidence that beamed so broadly that it pulled us through a serious recession, and a faith that tugged so happily at all hearts that a generation of Democrats became Republicans.

The American Dream is that any among us could become the next Thomas Edison, the next Henry Ford, the next Ronald Reagan.

To lead us forward, away from the looming debt crisis, it will take someone who believes in America’s greatness, who believes in and can articulate the American dream, someone who has created jobs, someone who understands and appreciates what makes America great, someone who will lead our party and our nation forward.

I believe that someone is our nominee: Governor Mitt Romney.

As Reagan said, our freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. If our freedom is taken, the American Dream will wither and die.

To lead, we must transform the coldness of austerity into the warm, vibrant embrace of prosperity.

To overcome the current crisis, we must appreciate and applaud American success. We must step forward, unabashedly and proclaim: You did build that. You earned that. You worked hard. You studied. You labored. You did build that. And you deserve America’s undying gratitude. For you, the individual, are the engine of America’s greatness.

Thank you.”

UPDATE: Why is Mike Huckabee speaking, but not Ron Paul? “Huck’s For Huck—Paul’s For America.”

Nattering Nabobs of NATO

America, Foreign Policy, Ilana Mercer, Military, Russia, Uncategorized, War

NATO concluded a two-day summit in Chicago on May 21. Srdja Trifkovic, at Chronicles Magazine, distills the “impressively vacuous waffle” issuing from these publicly financed officials. This particular self-important convention, concludes Srdja, could have been avoided. A “day-long teleconference—preceded by a few thousand e-mails among a few dozen civil servants—at zero cost to U.S. taxpayers and zero inconvenience to the citizens of Chicago” would have done the job.

I’d go one better: There is no need for NATO. The sooner the US disinvests from NATO, the better off will “The American Interest” be served.

Alas, there is more at stake than the good of the people allegedly represented by NATO “leaders.” Thus, as Srdja points out, “The alliance will continue to expand its capabilities in spite of economic austerity.”

All of the key decisions on Afghanistan are made by the Obama administration.
It cannot be otherwise. That war has always been an American operation, with some peripheral support from a number of NATO countries. …
…the future of Afghanistan belongs to the Taliban. For 11 years, survival was all the Taliban needed to accomplish in order to win. Once the American and other NATO troops leave, the ANSF will collapse, President Karzai will seek refuge in the Emirates, and Afghanistan will revert to her premodern ways. It does not matter: The country is irrelevant to the security of NATO members, and it should never have become a theater of NATO operations.

On the American cold-war hangover of kicking Russia despite its co-operation, Srdja observes the following:

When Obama addressed the summit on May 21, he publicly thanked Russia and her Central Asian neighbors “that continue to provide critical transit” into Afghanistan. Therefore, it is remarkable that a major irritant in U.S.-Russian relations—the prospect of NATO membership for Georgia—was revived at the summit: “we have agreed to enhance Georgia’s connectivity with the Alliance, including by further strengthening our political dialogue, practical cooperation, and interoperability,” the declaration says, and “we appreciate Georgia’s substantial contribution . . . to Euro-Atlantic security.”
This is nonsense. Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia in August 2008 was one of
the most destabilizing events of the last decade in the Euro-Atlantic region. Imagine the reaction in Washington if Russia were to offer a military alliance to Mexico, equipped and trained the Mexican army, and guaranteed the inviolability of the Rio Grande frontier. Any further expansion of NATO along Russia’s flanks would confirm Moscow’s suspicion that, after the end of the Cold War, the underlying raison d’être of the alliance remains enmity with Russia. …
…Russia’s security interests demand a friendly “near-abroad” along her extended frontiers. Having a hostile Georgia on her southern flank—ran by an arguably unstable Mikhael Saakashvili—is a problem. Accepting Georgia into NATO would be seen in Russia as a security challenge of the highest order. Moreover, it would be detrimental to U.S. interests because of the security guarantee contained in Article V of the NATO Charter—the cornerstone of the alliance—which theoretically obliges the United States to risk an all-out war in defense of Georgia’s sovereignty over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Srdja’s analysis in Chronicles is always highly recommended. Subscribe to the magazine once the editors complete their lineup with The Paleolibertarian Column, WND’s longest-standing, exclusive (rightist) libertarian column, also on RT.

Budget Baloney

Conservatism, Europe, Federal Reserve Bank, Feminism, Uncategorized

If Barack Obama gets reelected, he will face two Republican Houses. Thus his budget plan has no hope of ever being put to the vote. “It’s all about election year 2012, not fiscal year 2013,” writes CNN’s Alan Silverleib, about Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget.

Obama’s plan hikes taxes on the wealthiest Americans to the tune of roughly $1.5 trillion. It ends the Bush-era tax cuts for families making over $250,000 annually while enacting the so-called Buffett Rule, requiring households earning more than $1 million to pay at least a 30% rate. …
The administration is proposing to spend billions on infrastructure, education and domestic manufacturing. Among other things, Obama’s budget includes $30 billion to modernize schools, along with another $30 billion to hire and retain teachers and first responders….
It also includes an extension of long-term unemployment benefits and the current payroll tax cut, something Congress is expected to take up this month.
“Congress needs to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance without drama and without delay and without linking it to some other ideological side issues,” Obama declared Monday morning. “The time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy has to be over. Now is the time for action.”
Now is not the time, however, for new details on deficit reduction.


More details from Larry Kudlow. Veronique de Rugy has her say at National Review too.