Julian Assange and Edward Snowden

Edwatd Snowden seemed to be just a guy who believed that the Constitution of the United States was being violated by its very government.

Chris has thought about Julian Assange a lot more than I have:

What drove Julian Assange to start WikiLeaks? Do you think he’s a white, gray, or black hat? Has your opinion of Assange or Snowden changed at all due to the leaks and Russian involvement?

I’m going to assume Assange started Wikileaks for the reason he said he started it. From a recent Bloomberg story I can’t locate presently:

“A decade ago, when Assange founded WikiLeaks, it was a very different organization. As Raffi Khatchadourian reported in a 2010 New Yorker profile, Assange told potential collaborators in 2006, ‘Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia, and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations.’ For a while, WikiLeaks followed this creed.”

The same story shows how the organization has gone off the rails, most recently proposing the tracking of verified Twitter users’ homes, families, and finances. Um, no thanks. That seems to be the Big Brother that Assange looked to take down initially.

When Agent Orange sided with Assange Over the CIA, that was disturbing on more than one level. Sarah Palin’s support further diminishes.

I thought, 10 years ago, that he was a white hat if you will, but certainly not now.

Whereas Edward Snowden I’ve seen differently. He was just a guy who believed that the Constitution of the United States was being violated by its very government. He believed that protection from unwanted and illegal government attention should be afforded to every citizen.

I wondered if I, in the same situation, might have been tempted to do the same, be a whistle-blower, to detail these conflicting, interrelated issues of national security, privacy, civil liberties, and Internet freedom. Librarians, after all, have been at the forefront of the fight for freedom, changing the way records are no longer kept in the wake of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act.

He changed the business model. “The NSA relied on Internet giants to do surveillance for them (surveillance being a major part of the Big Data business model), and pre-Snowden, there was no real downside to cooperating with illegal NSA spying requests — in some cases, spooks would shower your company with money if it went along with the gag. Post-Snowden, all surveillance cooperation should be presumed to be destined to be made public, and that’s changed the corporate calculus.”

I wish I had seen “Citizen Four,” Laura Poitras’ film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America. “In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her.”

I did watch that John Oliver interview of Snowden in 2015, in Russia. As a buddy of mine put it, “he was clear, clever, and careful in how he responded, even when he was adopting the joke angle. He earned a lot of my respect just in how he dealt with Oliver’s interjections and his goofy gimmick interview style.”

Did Edward Snowden sabotage the war on terrorism? Did he provide too much information to Russian intelligence? Or did he let the American public know about the illegal activities that the US Government was doing in their name and at their expense? Possibly all of the above.

Someone wrote recently that, if he were a real patriot, Snowden would come home, and like a Father Berrigan, face his accusers, and let the ACLU or others defend him. That’s a personal decision only he can make.

I find Julian Assange to be an arrogant twit, whereas Edward Snowden appears to be a bright guy, but way out of his depth.

The torture report

Antonin Scalia believes in the ‘24’ Effect to rationalize torture.

From Tom Tomorrow
From Tom Tomorrow

While I’ve had the intention of writing about the disturbing report that the Senate Democrats recently released about the United States and torture, circumstances have not allowed that. So here’s a bunch of links, with brief observations:

From The Implications of the Torture Report by Mike Lofgren, Truthout:

The present writer will take as a given the veracity of its three main findings: that the United States engaged in practices both legally and commonly definable as torture; that the actionable intelligence these practices produced was negligible; and that the practices tainted the moral prestige of the United States government in a manner that damaged its foreign policy. These assertions may be taken as true both because of the abundant evidence presented in the report itself and because of the flailing and hysterical reaction by our country’s national security elites…

[Secretary of State] Kerry: “Lots of things going on in the world; not a good time for disclosure.” But when is there ever not a lot of things going on in the world?

That would be my general view as well.

Another fair representation of my position: 5 Things to Understand About the Torture Report from the Weekly Sift.

I’m particularly intrigued by the Truth and reconciliation section, which almost certainly will not happen because America is AWESOME! and we’re a “let’s move on” people.

The Rank, Reeking Horror of Torturing Some Folks from Truthout:

“In my name. In your name. In our names.” The narrative was that, in the days after 9/11, the “American people” wanted the government to do “anything” to prevent of another one. Instead, the torture and imprisonment have eventually led to the hate-filled ISIS. That may be true, since a majority of Americans say the CIA tactics were justified, which makes me all sorts of sad.

CIA Lied About Torture, Senate Report Suggests from Newsmax:

All sorts of discomforting items therein.

What torture sounds like from BoingBoing.
ventura
Karl Rove Says Bush Knew About CIA Interrogation Program, Defends Rectal Feeding from the Huffington Post:

“Appearing on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ [former GW Bush adviser] Rove claimed the brutal forced rectal feedings — which the report said were not medically necessary — were used out of medical necessity.”

Physicians: “Anal feeding” of prisoners is sexual assault, has no medical use, from BoingBoing:

“What a sad world we live in, when a coalition of medical professionals has to issue a press release announcing this most obvious of obvious observations…”

Dick Cheney: ‘I Haven’t Read’ CIA Torture Report but It’s ‘Full of Crap’ from Mediaite:

He doth describe himself instead, and rather well.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia’s spirited defense of torture from MSNBC:

“We have never held that that’s contrary to the Constitution. And I don’t know what provision of the Constitution that would, that would contravene.

“Listen, I think it is very facile for people to say, ‘Oh, torture is terrible.’ You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it’s an easy question? You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person? I don’t think that’s so clear at all.”

OMG, OMG. (Facepalm) Scalia believes in The ‘24’ Effect: Did the TV drama convince us that torture really worked? from Matt Bai at Yahoo! News. I stopped watching this show regularly after the first episode of the second season because I decided it was torture porn.

But sometimes, you just need a cartoon to break it down for you:
Tortured logic, from Tom Tomorrow in the Daily Kos
An Illustrated A to Z of Torture from Vice.com

Or satire:
Cheney calls for ban on publishing torture reports from the New Yorker