“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 03, 2012

Had enough of this shit yet?

National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney explains how the secretive agency run its pervasive domestic spying apparatus in a new piece by Laura Poitras in The New York Times.

Binney—one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history—worked for the Defense Departments foreign signals intelligence agency for 32 years before resigning in late 2001 because he "could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution."

In a short video called The Program," Binney explains how the agency took part of one of the programs he built and started using it to spy on virtually every U.S. citizen without warrants under the code-name Stellar Wind.

Binney details how the top-secret surveillance program, the scope of which has never been made public, can track electronic activities—phone calls, emails, banking and travel records, social media—and map them to collect all the attributes that any individual has" in every type of activity and build a profile based on that data.

So that now I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time," Binney says.

The 8-minute video, adapted from an ongoing project by Poitras that is to be released in 2013, has footage of the construction of the NSAs $2 billion data storage facility in Bluffdale, Utah, which Binney says "has the capacity to store 100 years worth of the world's electronic communications." 

The purpose of the program, according to Binney, is to be able to monitor what people are doing" and who they are doing it with. 

"The danger here is that we fall into a totalitarian state," Binney says. This is something the KGB, the Stasi or the Gestapo would have loved to have had."

Poitras, who has been detained and questioned more than 40 times at U.S. airports, has been working on a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America.


  1. it is telling that we need to go to Russian news to get NEWS.

  2. Shit Bird W passed the baton to Shit Bird O and it has been taken up vigorously.

    1. The NSA is at once the most dangerous threat to our democracy and our freedom, and the most essential tool in the defense of that freedom in a technological age. The Bush administration, in a surfeit of panic AND a willingness to enhance that panic nationally for pure political gain, opened doors that MUST be slammed shut. The NSA has to be brought to ground and put under political control by both the legislature and the courts. They may already have violated federal laws AND they have certainly abrogated significant portions of the constitution. At the same time, these tools and skills must be aimed where they were intended, at those on foreign shores who wish us harm and will stop at nothing to damage our people and our democracy. If we don't get this agency under control, we may actually have to dismantle it, and that would be a terrible thing for all of us.

    2. Domestic spying is as old as the late 1950s. Of course, now that everything is digital it's more complex and sophisticated. The details have changed significantly, but it's essentially the same idea. I’m glad to read that there are people who are willing to speak up and take risks to bring it to light.

      The more distressing fact is that so many Americans just don't care. Worse, they favor these surveillance programs. Two arguments I hear all the time from people whom I used to think were intelligent: "Whatever it takes to keep us safe" or, "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about."

      I disagree on both counts.

    3. Well said by both of the above.

  3. Go to minute 7:50 for the real dumb shit remark from individuals who think that if they are doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about.

    Our masters love that opinion as a chef loves the dope that wants a well done steak.

  4. I urge you to look at the first link:

    how the secretive agency run its pervasive domestic spying apparatus in a new piece by Laura Poitras in The New York Times.

  5. Maybe we will be saved by a breakup of the country.

    Yet I do see one way out of our debt hole. When the profligates in government (and their sheeple voters) finally collapse the system, there won't even be a common federal feeding trough to hold our culturally, ethnically, and ideologically balkanized land together. We then may dissolve as the Soviet Union did, with various states, or blocks of them, going their separate ways. And guess who'd be left holding the bag? Note: the $16 trillion we owe is federal debt, not state. And I'd just say, hey, Washington, D.C., you know that debt thing? Good luck with all that.

    We're getting there.

    'You go broke slowly then all at once'


    What an attractive well spoken young woman!

    Yup, the Russian media is all right, long as they don't criticize Putin. Kind of like not criticizing Barky here.

    I wonder how the wise Latina and Kagan would vote on a case regarding this issue. Right now the Supreme Court would probably side with our rights. Few more Barky appointments, maybe not.

    Whole thing is disgusting.

    So I am flipping them all the dirty finger in writing, right now. There, take that. (the government, not the court, not yet, anyway)

    1. Bush started the invasion of our right to privacy, and the Obama administration has continued to expand the surveillance program. Liberals were outraged when Bush was caught intercepting communications between a foreign country and the U.S., yet most stand mute as the Obama Administration intercepts every communication. Spying is now a bi-partisan issue with almost full congressional support. The government is staffed by a bunch of paranoids and you know what happens when paranoids get in charge.

    2. I can't see how any Supreme Court could uphold this kind of stuff. Or any political party support it. What might be of some marginal utility to some party today might be used against them tomorrow. Would the Justices really want their e-mails on file somewhere? Do they really want people to start passing notes to each other in parks? Do they want to do that? This kind of stuff harms everyone in the end.

    3. I believe many in Congress might not know the full extent of it.

      I really doubt my guy would support it.

      Now I have two issues for correspondence with him.

  6. Time to pull out the old Ben Franklin quote:

    Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither. Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.

  7. Why do we continue to allow more Muslims to immigrate to our country with many of them ending up on our welfare rolls. And with them comes the call for more dens of hate called Mosques.

    Show me a Muslim that's willing to assimilate into our culture? You can't find them.

    They all want us to change for them and they keep demanding more changes while their Muslim Brotherhood partners in crime like CAIR continue to push their evil ideology deeper into our schools where they can indoctrinate our young children into believing the lies about Islam.

    Under Islam there is no freedom of speech. Women are considered half that of a man. Honor killing is allowed under sharia law if the family is dishonored by their children. All these truths are never spoken of when our children are being indoctrinated.

  8. Look at this timely story via Drudge Tax Hitmen to Track Your Spending

    Time to go off the grid? Can we stop playing their game?

    1. That seems to be in Britain. Watch your overseas accounts.

      We are a little slow in USA. Probably coming soon...

  9. The presidential election of 2000 becomes historic and pivotal. It takes the discipline of Job to not speculate about intent. The Bush/Cheney tag team, and their PNAC lapdogs, were the worst thing to happen to this country in modern history.

    1. Remember, the alternative was Al Gore.

    2. Could he have done a worse job?

    3. Al? Hell yes he could have done a worse job, and would have done his best to do so. We'd all be riding around on public transport and freezing to death.

    4. Taxed to death by the UN on carbon emissions, we'd be starving too.

  10. Replies
    1. This kind of power roll-back is going to be very hard.

    2. The Bush/Cheney tag team, and their PNAC lapdogs, were the worst thing to happen to this country in modern history.

      Naw, Lyndon Johnson was worse. Many more dead under Lyndon. Beginning of the Great Society. So was Carter who lost Iran. So is Obama, who is destroying the economy and losing everything around the world.


  11. WASHINGTON -- Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson vowed to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama and help the GOP take control of Congress. According to two GOP fundraisers with close ties to the Las Vegas billionaire, he made good on that promise -- and then some. Adelson ultimately upped the ante, spending closer to a previously unreported $150 million, the fundraisers said.

    Adelson, a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, has said that his humongous spending was spurred chiefly by his fear that a second Obama term would bring "vilification of people that were against him." As that second term begins, Adelson's international casino empire faces a rough road, with two federal criminal investigations into his business.

    Teat-sucking socialist

    And little pr^ck.

    1. People seem interested in that story. 7,087 comments.

      I say make Las Vegas a city/state.

      Isolate it from the ranchers.

  12. Hillary Clinton is running for President. And the Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck. These are two conclusions, for whatever they are worth, based on a three-day conference I attended this weekend at the annual Saban Forum, in Washington, D.C.


    When the videos were over (and as the evening moved on), there was much chatter about what Clinton would do after she steps down from the Cabinet next month—get a haircut; take a few weeks sleeping off jet lag at Canyon Ranch; read the polls and the political landscape; do good works; do good works for the good people of, say, Iowa—and so on. Everyone had a theory of which they were one hundred percent certain. There wasn’t much doubt about the ultimate direction. 2007-8 was but a memory and 2016 was within sight. She’s running.


    But as the coming days would prove, the Netanyahu government repaid American diplomatic allegiance by doing precisely what would embarrass and anger the Obama Administration most: first, by announcing new settlement activity in the West Bank and then by punishing the Palestinian Authority financially by withholding tax receipts. And yet the Israelis have been quick to rebuff any talk of a crisis in U.S.—Israel relations; all the talk is of “shared values” and “your only ally in the region.”


    Throughout the day, particularly among Americans with ties to Democratic Administrations, there was a great deal of despairing hallway talk about the state of Israeli politics—the stark contrast between the vitality of Israeli economic, cultural, and academic life, and the miserable state of its political culture, the poverty of skill, talent, and imagination. The centrists and center-liberals at the conference—Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, and others—were so obviously in the eclipse and their rhetoric was tired and scattered. Their sense of defeat and frustration was distinct.

    Olmert, who has a legacy to defend and an ego to feed, was clear and alive, but even when he was right on the issues, he undermined himself with his bombast. He rightly slammed Netanyahu for giving Obama a “slap in the face” over the weekend and mocked the prime minister for pretending to be friends with Obama after being his “enemy” in the Presidential campaign just a few weeks ago.” Olmert called Mitt Romney’s campaign trip to Israel—which featured a fundraiser with Sheldon Adelson, who also owns a pro-Netanyahu newspaper—completely “inappropriate…It was made to create the impression among Jewish American voters that Romney was riding to the White House on the shoulders of Israel.” And yet he undermined himself in every self-intoxicated gesture and self-adoring rhetorical turn.

    The future

  13. This is what Paolo has achieved - what he sacrificed for - Transparency!

    Pope Starts Personal Twitter Account

    Published: December 3, 2012 at 9:00

    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The secret's out. Pope Benedict's new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world's most visible leaders.

    Benedict already has 1.2 billion "followers" in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.

    Finally we can get to the inner doings of the Vatican!

    Just ask! the Pope.

    Somebody ask the Pope how Paolo is doing, and when he will get out.

    And why he hasn't pardoned him as Christ would have done.

    1. .

      Before the verdict, Mr. Gabriele addressed the court and told the three judges, “I am not a thief.”

      Even if we accept the leaking of confidential info was a misappropriation of documents rather than theft, how does one explain the gold nugget, the 16th Cnetury manuscript, and the check for E100,000 Euros made out to the Pope that were found in Paolo's possession?

      Quite a conundrum.


  14. "Bread, freedom and Islamic Sharia"

    Well, Egypt is finished.

    December 3, 2012
    Egypt's 'Sharia Thirst' Closer to Being Quenched?
    Andrew Bostom

    Al Ahram, Al Jazeera (via Egypt News), and Reuters are all reporting that Egypt's Supreme Judiciary Council has announced today (Tuesday, 12/3/12) that it will appoint judges and prosecutors to supervise the constitution referendum, slated for December 15, 2012.

    Reuters quoted President Morsi's legal adviser, Mohamed Gadallah, who stated,

    The Supreme Judicial Council has met and agreed to delegate judges to oversee the constitutional referendum

    According to Al Ahram, Judge Samir Abou El-Maati, head of Cairo's Appeal Court, will oversee the council. Al Ahram also noted that voting to approve or reject the new constitution will take place earlier, between December 8-11, 2012, for Egyptian expatriates.

    As I noted previously, President Morsi and the mainstream, governing Sharia supremacists he represents, are counting on the Sharia supporting Egyptian masses to give their imprimatur to the new Constitution.

    The sentiments of Morsi's broad base of supporters were expressed during pro-Morsi and pro-Constitution demonstrations in Egypt this past weekend, where Sharia-enthusiasts chanted "Immunize the Constituent Assembly, we want Egypt to be Islamic," and "Bread, freedom and Islamic Sharia" Their popular views were summarized very aptly by pro-Constitution demonstrator, Hesham Darwish, from Cairo's Hadayeq al-Qobba district:

    People are thirsty for Sharia. [emphasis added] We do not support the president for who he is, but rather for the Islamic project he promises.

    Digging a deeper hole for themselves. Like an escape to slavery.

  15. Eric Gibson: The Illegal Eagle and a Baldly Grasping IRS
    Only in the fantasy bazaar of the U.S. government's imagination can an item that is worthless carry a multimillion-dollar price tag.

    This is telling me it's time to go back to bed.

    1. The Eagle seems to have landed at the Museum of Modern Art, all is well, except the family got their property swindled away from them.

      Nice picture of the art work if you are interested.

    2. I think all this is all a big violation of ex poste facto myself.

      Ex post facto law
      From Wiki

      An ex post facto law (from the Latin for "from after the action" or "after the fact"), also called a retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law. In criminal law, it may criminalize actions that were legal when committed; it may aggravate a crime by bringing it into a more severe category than it was in when it was committed; it may change the punishment prescribed for a crime, as by adding new penalties or extending sentences; or it may alter the rules of evidence in order to make conviction for a crime likelier than it would have been when the deed was committed. Conversely, a form of ex post facto law commonly called an amnesty law may decriminalize certain acts or alleviate possible punishments (for example by replacing the death sentence with lifelong imprisonment) retroactively. Such laws are also known by the Latin term in mitius.

      A law may have an ex post facto effect without being technically ex post facto. For example, when a law repeals a previous law, the repealed legislation is no longer applicable to situations to which it previously was, even if such situations arose before the law was repealed. The principle of prohibiting the continued application of such laws is called Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali, especially in European Continental systems.

      Some common-law jurisdictions do not permit retroactive criminal legislation, though new precedent generally applies to events that occurred before the judicial decision. Ex post facto laws are expressly forbidden by the United States Constitution. In some nations that follow the Westminster system of government, such as the United Kingdom, ex post facto laws are technically possible, because the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy allows Parliament to pass any law it wishes. In a nation with an entrenched bill of rights or a written constitution, ex post facto legislation may be prohibited.

      At least we are not yet Mexico or France, ((yet)), where you have to prove your innocence, not the other way round.

  16. But I'll fight the desire -

    Camilo Cruz
    10:15 AM PST
    I would turn the Pentagon into a mall or university. It would be beautiful.

    Special Report

    The Permanent War

    This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing.

    DIA sending hundreds more spies overseas

    I don't know about turning the Pentagon into a mall or a university, we have plenty of those, but we do seem to have too many agencies floundering about over the same turf.

  17. Just for Deuce who might like the comparison but for different reasons - :)

    ( -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, likened Obama’s values and “ability to see a clear road where everybody just sees fog” to President Abraham Lincoln as depicted in the 2012 Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln.”

    Speaking at Northwestern University on Friday, Emanuel said, “And I think the president’s experience as somebody who was a community organizer on the South Side, dealing with the steel workers who had lost their jobs and lost any possibility of having a job in their industry mid-life, how they were going to retrain, how they were going to get themselves back on their feet and how they were going to value themselves, was a guiding principle for him.”

    He continued, “And I think that’s essential because, in the Oval Office, at the end of the day, all you have are your values, your judgment, and your ability to see a clear road where everybody just sees fog."

    President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the 16th president of the United States.
    “If you haven’t seen the movie ‘Lincoln,’ and if I didn’t try to illuminate it, please go see the movie ‘Lincoln’ because that’s another way where all these cross currents come at you and you have to make sense of that conflict, and that conflicting currents and equities,” he said.

    Emanuel made his remarks specifically in reference to Obama’s decision to provide a financial bailout to General Motors in 2009, and how his experience as a community organizer helped him to make that decision.

    As part of the “One Book One Northwestern” program, Emanuel held a discussion at Northwestern University entitled “Chicago Politics and the 2012 Election,” in which he talked about politics and the book Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz

  18. James Bamford, veteran NSA reporter, is all over the Bluffdale Facility in his new book, The Shadow Factory where "Big Love Meets Big Brother," Bluffdale being home to the largest polygamist colony in Utah. He also has recent interviews with Forbes and Wired, and the DemocracyNow folks, which is primarily Amy Goodwin, who rebuffed an interview request from Lindauer.

    The Bluffdale complex is widely considered to be a continuation of the Total Information Awareness Program, being pursued by the Bush administration until stopped by court order.

  19. Homeland Security seizes Tyrannosaurus skill, saves nation from Jurassic Park -

  20. Kitties to the Cooler - "he didn't know what he was thinking," Barreda said. "Then he said some statements to the effect of putting the cats in time-out."

    St. Petersburg man accused of animal cruelty after kittens found in his freezer

    By Kameel Stanley, Times Staff Writer
    Posted: Dec 03, 2012 03:29 PM

    ST. PETERSBURG — The kittens were wrapped individually in sandwich bags, tucked on the bottom shelf of the freezer inside Rodney J. Blanchard's trailer.

    Three orange and white ones — all males — were alive. A fourth, a calico and white female, had stopped breathing.

    It isn't clear how long the cats, estimated to be about six weeks old, were there before Blanchard's friend, Eva Mulder, found them.

    Mulder, 38, was visiting Blanchard, 39, on Sunday evening at his place, 7570 46th Ave. N, lot 175. At one point, Pinellas deputies said, he asked her to grab him a beer from the freezer.

    Mulder found the kittens instead.

    "She tried to take them out of the freezer," said Pinellas County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda. "He wouldn't let her."

    In fact, Blanchard kicked her out. Deputies soon arrived.

    They heard meowing as they approached the freezer. They gathered the shivering, flea-ridden kittens and wrapped them in a blanket.

    The SPCA took custody of the kittens, as well as an unharmed adult cat found in the home.

    Blanchard was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and misdemeanor battery. He told deputies "he didn't know what he was thinking," Barreda said. "Then he said some statements to the effect of putting the cats in time-out."

  21. When Richard Branson sold a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. to Singapore Airlines Ltd. in 1999, the British billionaire described the tie-up as a "marriage made in heaven," with hopes that the alliance would offer customers a much wider choice of destinations.

    But the relationship never quite blossomed the way both partners envisioned and now looks set to end after 13 years. Singapore Airlines said Monday that it was in talks to sell its investment in Virgin Atlantic, a move would free the premium Asian carrier from one of its most disappointing ventures.

  22. Clinton and Obama, practicing smart diplomacy, threaten Assad with intervention of some type if he uses chemical weapons to slaughter his people, calling this 'a red line', which seems to give him the green to go ahead to slaughter his people by any other means.

    1. Have always suspected those chemical and biological(?) weapons, much probably gotten from Saddam right before we invaded, would get a workout someway someday. From Assad's point of view, he is likely to hang, whether he uses them or not, if he loses. And, he might not, if he hangs on.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Yesterday the contentious area, E1, was deserted. There are street lights, electricity cables and water mains, but no houses.

    “E1 sits smack in the middle of East Jerusalem, bifurcating the contiguity of land on which the future of a Palestinian state depends, creating two cantons out of the West Bank. This is why E1 is known as the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution,” said Betty Herschman of Ir Amim, a pressure group that advocates co-existence in Jerusalem.

    The plans announced this weekend will take at least a year to wind through the Israeli bureaucracy.

  25. .

    Keeping within the spirit of the subject of this stream, does anyone else see that today's announcement is a perfect set-up for a 'false flag' operation?

    I mean, were you one of the Sryian militants or one of the countries using them as surrogates and you wanted to pull the U.S. actively into the conflict, what would you do?


    What would you do if you were part of the administration and you needed an excuse to get involved in Syria?

    Just saying.

    James Bamford would love it.


    1. Had similar thoughts.

    2. Yes, I do, and agree with you.

      All devious minds think alike.

      All honest minds are honest in their own way.

    3. Meant for the Quirkster, of course.

    4. He of 'SimilarSoulsRUs'.

  26. .

    Someone above noted it's 'time to get off the grid'.

    Well, that's getting harder and harder every day.

    When I went to pay my property taxes, there was a sign next to the cashier asking that property taxes be paid by check rather than cash. It went on to explain further giving the following example:

    If the city deposits a $4,000 check, it costs them $.05. If they deposit the $4,000 as cash the bank charges them $10. When I asked why, the clerk said, "That's bank policy."

    There's been talk over the past couple days about $1 coins replacing the $1 bill. Even if it happened, it would be short term. Soon all transactions will be handled electronically with no need for physical currency.

    When that happens you can imagine the implications on issues raised by today's blog.


  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. If they deposit the $4,000 as cash the bank charges them $10. When I asked why, the clerk said, "That's bank policy".

    That's nuts.

    Most people want the record of their check. Criminals generally prefer cash.

    The Tax Collector's Office may be fearful that their employees will make off with some cash.

  29. If we are stupid enough to eliminate cash, government will take a piece of every transaction. Why wouldn’t they?

    1. Out in Idaho there is an alternative currency called Valley Script. Unfortunately, it's not recognized very far afield.

    2. .

      Just down in the valley?


  30. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has set a record in Michigan, receiving 7,774 write-in votes. The record was previously held by Ralph Nader who received 2,322 write-in votes in Michigan in 1996, running on the Green Party ticket.

    Johnson's vote total exceeded that of Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, whose name was printed on the ballot and received 5,147 votes. Anderson was placed on the Michigan ballot by the Natural Law Party.

  31. Republican Sen. John McCain had some fun Monday at the expense of his friend and Democratic colleague. Responding to a Kerry introduction at a news conference on a disabilities treaty, McCain said, “thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.”


    “Thank you very much Mr. President,” Kerry said when he returned to the microphone. McCain unsuccessfully sought the presidency in 2000 and 2008.