“Fear” changing us…”What the Olympics tell you about terrorism | Stephen M. Walt”

 

We are being allowing our civil liberties to be eroded close to the vanishing point, we are privatizing our military and defense (two governmental functions at base) at great cost economically and socially in that we are creating interest groups that thrive on war and covert operations, and most people seem unconcerned.

Key to this is the creation and manipulation of “fear.”  Think of it, fear exists in endless supply, accompanied by secrecy it is nearly impossible for citizens to to know whether or not there is a factual basis for it, and it can be used to justify the expenditure of billions on activities which,  because secret, are not subject to public audit and democratic oversight.  Congressional oversight, if it really exists at all, is so constrained by the executive branch that it might as well not exist.  This is changing our system of government fundamentally without our knowledge or consent.

Please read the whole article from which this is quoted.

“The second lesson is that we continue to over-react to the “terrorist threat.” Here I recommend you read John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, in the latest issue of International Security.   Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed “Islamic terrorist plots” against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.” They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying “we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,” noting further that al Qaeda’s “capabilities are far inferior to its desires.”

via What the Olympics tell you about terrorism | Stephen M. Walt.

 

This Stands Well for Steps in a Cyberstrategy

Journalist Rebecca MacKinnon. Crop of original...
Journalist Rebecca MacKinnon. Crop of original source photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is, best I recall, unprecedented for me to rely on another publication to express my views on this blog but this item in Foreign Affairs summarizes the history, situation, stakes, ironies and a possible set of steps forward that can stand for my view.

The U.S. global Internet freedom agenda will only succeed in the long run if the United States can find a way to live up to its own values and offer a vision — in practice — of what a digital future based in civil liberties can provide. So long as confusion reigns, there will be no successful global Internet agenda, only contradiction.

“A Clunky Cyberstrategy” by Rebecca MacKinnon in Foreign Affairs

The Power to Kill – NYTimes.com–The corrupting influence of power and the most pernicious assertion Holder made

How do we recapture our rights?  No small trick in the face of this kind of assertion…

Mr. Holder said such operations require high levels of secrecy. That is obvious, but the FISA court operates in secret, and at least Americans are assured that some legal authority not beholden to a particular president or political party is reviewing such operations.

Mr. Holder argued in his speech that judicial process and due process guaranteed by the Constitution “are not one and the same.” This is a straw man. The judiciary has the power to say what the Constitution means and make sure the elected branches apply it properly. The executive acting in secret as the police, prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner is the antithesis of due process.

via The Power to Kill – NYTimes.com.

Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media, News

Now I ask you to read that last sentence with as open and credulous a spirit as you can muster, and tell me if you think the Agency that controls the TSA, INS, FEMA, Secure Cities, and is headed by someone who displays the worst personal and professional characteristics of an unresponsive and publicly unaccountable bureaucrat, is being egregiously disingenuous.

A senior Homeland Security official who spoke to The Huffington Post on Friday on condition of anonymity said the testimony of agency officials last week remains “accurate” and the manual “is a starting point, not the endgame” in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats. The official denied Electronic Privacy Information Center’s charge that the government is monitoring dissent. The manual’s instruction that analysts should identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities” was not aimed at silencing criticism but at spotting and addressing problems, she added.

via Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media, News.

“We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran” Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly (update 3: “Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb…?” 01/26/2012)

Most of what’s published on this blog is just my opinion, often based on little more than other blogs I read and the MSM.  And, although I uphold the idea of contrariness for its own sake, most of what’s here is not greatly beyond the mainstream.  Arguing for why Iran should get nuclear weapons and would get them inevitably was, in late January when I posted about it, contrary to all the received opinion I was seeing.  The article linked below is by someone with some genuine expertise in the Middle East.  It is nice to see that I am not the only person who thinks that, however undesirable it might be for Iran to have nuclear weapons, the sky will not fall.

We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran by Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly