Commentary: Privacy

Privacy

The “Nigger Wake-Up Call”

The great political comedian Paul Mooney made his bones by laying in the cut between American democratic ideals and American behavior.  A mentor and inspiration to his friend Richard Pryor, Mooney’s stock-in-trade is a canny ability to thread the truth between ongoing and established hypocrisies — to make us see the pathologies that are still at the core of our decision-making and societal array. One of his best routines involves the “nigger wake-up call,” that signal moment when the rest of America finally understands something, and comes to resent and acknowledge that which black and brown America has internalized and tolerated for generations. Well, in the wake of the revelations about data-mining — and  the sudden awareness that the government has legal cause to pay attention not just to criminally-inclined people of color and the dissolute, unreliable poor, but to us and our behavior, that there might actually be thirty to forty years of legal...

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Privacy

Now. And this. And, if true, the time and place to draw the line. (But not true: UPDATE)

UPDATED: So this allegation falls on its ass, and rather quickly, too.  The desire to reach beyond the known facts into the realm of speculation is pretty high in general, but on a spy story it’s even stronger, it would seem.  In any event, I’m leaving this post up regardless.  Lots of good discussion in the comments section, but more than that, it represents the line at which I believe a civil liberties intrusion rises to an unconstitutional and indefensible standard.  This was hyped.  But again, there is no reason not to be wary of government overreach. The original claim, now denied and dormant, is here, followed by my own, earlier comments: In my original post criticizing the hyperbole over the Verizon phone metadata gathering by the NSA and the revelation of a court order for that program, I wrote this: “When the Guardian, or the Washington Post or the New York Times editorial board are able …to show that Americans actually had their communications...

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Privacy

To and Fro. And Real Respect To Mr. Shirky For Checking In, Regardless.

In response to yesterday’s expressed disappointment with a Guardian column that challenged the original post on the NSA controversy here, Clay Shirky, who authored that essay, showed up in the comments section this morning.  That’s a mensch.  All credit there.  I’m going to highlight his comments and my answer to continue to focus my argument here.  And perhaps maybe move the argument off of who is Simon, or Greenwald, or Andrew Sullivan, or Thomas Friedman, or Janet Mayer, or Michael Moore, or Glenn Beck, or certainly, Mr. Shirky himself,  where they come from or what they might or might not know given what we think we understand of their background.  That stuff does not improve argument; it weakens argument.  Content matters.  The arguments themselves matter, not who we think made them or why.  Come to think of it, everyone just now arguing about who Edward Snowden is  might similarly inoculate themselves against the great viral scourge of  argumentum ad hominem...

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Privacy

The Guardian: I Am Straw Man, Reborn

There’s no problem whatsoever with the U.K.’s Guardian reporting the leaked Verizon court order, engaging with Mr. Snowden, and publishing the known details about that NSA program, as well as PRISM.  It is not in committing an act of premeditated journalism that such an august publication entered the realm of self-aggrandizing hyperbole.  The journalism is the job.  It was in the additional editorializing of the lead reporter in telling us exactly how “indiscriminate” the NSA program was.  Such characterization jumps past the known into the argumentative, and actually undercuts the fundamental journalism.  The NSA program involves a great amount of phone data, but it has by no means been proven indiscriminate. And while we have, leaked to us, the court order signed by a federal judge authorizing a re-up of that ongoing program, what we have not seen thus far is the affidavits of the counter-terrorism investigators explaining exactly the goals and uses of that...

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Privacy

Counter-Arguments: Gathered and Answered

I am on a new server, one that claims to be able to handle a bit more volume.  With all the confidence such a claim inspires, it might advance the debate if we take a shot at systematically addressing all of the main criticisms and counter-arguments that resulted from my previous post on the NSA controversy.  For purposes of clarity, let’s do this in the Q&A form. Q.  First of all, you do know that you are a crypto-fascist and naive shill for the burgeoning surveillance state. A.  Yes, apparently so.  Yesterday, I was a neo-Marxist arguing against the totalitarian overreach of the drug war and the need to decouple capital from our governing processes.   You go issue to issue, ignoring all the proper ideological prime-directives, and eventually you wear all the names. Q.  But what?  You love wiretaps?  Is this about the TV show? A.  No.  I was a police reporter covering the urban drug war for about a decade.  I read a lot of Title III affidavits.  I’m fairly comfortable...

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