Review (Guest): The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

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Luke Harding

4.0 out of 5 stars Ed Snowden and the American tribal fear meme, February 19, 2014


This is a story about what one American saw atop the tip of an iceberg called the “American national security state.” In the end, Ed Snowden, a 29-year old, $200,00/year High School dropout turned Computer Systems Administrator for Dell, and then Booz Allen Hamilton, both of which were under contract with the NSA, is little more than a proxy for the rest of us: the “paying customer” zombies and drones for the American “national security state.”

As he tried to “ride out” his tenure astride this violently bucking institutional Orwellian Frankenstein, Snowden quickly realized that he was losing ground to this secret self-fashioned protector of America’s deepest values. In our life time, the NSA had joined a long string of other self-justifying, self-certifying, security institutions, like the CIA, the FBI, Swat Teams, the DEA, even local police intelligence units, especially in America’s inner cities. In our lifetime, these institutions have acquired immense and unwarranted powers, often even unauthorized, unconstitutional and unearned and even criminal influence over our democratic institutions. Today, as this evolving behemoth huffs and puffs and bucks wildly out-of-control, Snowden decided he had no choice but to “jump ship,” taking with him a treasure trove of all that lay below the national security waterline.

What exactly is it that Ed Snowden saw that frightened him out of his wits and out of his $200k job and into the hands of a most curious savior of last resort: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the ex-Communist ex-superpower that, since it was forced to commit suicide as an empire, has now become a capitalist Wild West frontier, a land full of out-of-control oligarchs, which is exactly where Ed Snowden’s favorite political hero, Ron Paul would like to take America — if he is ever elected president, that is.

As he now sits ensconced somewhere in Russia, one thought above all else must have occurred to Mr. Snowden: Is this some kind of sick joke? That me, a freedom-loving American, who willingly exercised my civic duty as a free-thinking defender of American values and the U.S. Constitution, conveying crimes being committed against that very Constitution, is now forced to run, hide and seek refuge in a failed ex-Communist state?

That Snowden’s reality is true in a nation that is still living on moral credit, and that takes much more credit for being democratic than it deserves or its historical record can substantiate, is almost as embarrassing an irony and contradiction as seeing the U.S. being “in hock up to the hilt” to Reagan’s other Axis-of-evil: the last standing Communist Police State, “Red China.” And lest we conveniently forget, said “Red China,” is the same state that less than three decades ago, we were referring to mockingly and derisively as being backwards? Now, that they are in bed with our capitalist oligarchs (the Red Chinese “Job Creators,” par excellence) rather incongruously, China has now become the world’s leading capitalist country, holding 60% of our debt, while the U.S. slides noisily, defiantly, but nevertheless persistently and decidedly, backwards. There is an embedded poetic logic to this irony that Snowden’s Ron Paul-Ayn Rand Libertarian sensibilities seems to have missed?

This book rather inarticulately unravels the story of exactly what it is that Ed Snowden saw; why he was so alarmed; and why he had no choice but to expose what he saw to the American public and then had to run. It tells how in the ultimate act of patriotic suicide, Snowden had to respectfully sue for the mercy of the “Obama Courts.” However, since he knew that with the “Obama Justice Department,” a fair trial was already off the table, he had no choice but to “punt early” by “going on the lam,” and seeking protection and a haven elsewhere.

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Feb 19

Worth a Look: No Place to Hide – Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State

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Glenn Greenwald

No Place to Hide is a groundbreaking look at the NSA surveillance scandal, from the reporter who broke the story

Investigative reporter for The Guardian and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald, provides an in-depth look into the NSA scandal that has triggered a national debate over national security and information privacy. With further revelations from documents entrusted to Glenn Greenwald by Edward Snowden himself, this book explores the extraordinary cooperation between private industry and the NSA, and the far-reaching consequences of the government’s surveillance program, both domestically and abroad.

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Jan 13

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto – Transparency, Truth & Trust


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Robert David Steele

5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!,June 24, 2012

B. Tweed DeLions “B.T.”

If there’s a single Founding Father of the Open Source movement, Robert D. Steele is it. Everyone else has been playing catchup. And if you don’t know what the Open Source revolution is, you need to read this book. You don’t even need to know why! You need to buy it, read it, and then you’ll *know* why. No other book on Open Source can open your eyes the way this one can. That’s because there’s no potential use of Open Source intelligence that Steele hasn’t anticipated. Collective Intelligence is coming! It’s an unstoppable force. And it will change everything. So if you like to know about things like that in advance, you need to buy this book.

The information age that was created by personal computers was just a kiddie car with a squeaky horn. By comparison, the open source revolution is a freight train. Its potential to change your world is orders of magnitude greater. This is not hyperbole. In fact superlatives can’t begin to express the ground-shaking potential of this next wave of human evolution.

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Jun 24

Review: The Shadow Factory–The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America


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Author’s Two Points: NSA as Enabler of Tyranny, Channel for Israel, October 19, 2008

James Bamford

10 Aug 10 PBI Edit to add Amazon link and Review link.

The book is a devastating complement to A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies. See also (or at least read reviews) his earlier books about NSA, The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA, America’s Most Secret Agency and Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency.

The author tells us that NSA red flag went up on 21 June. 30 distinct warnings within NSA in June-July; 6 August was the 36th time Bin Laden briefed to President, and blown off; by 21 August FBI and CIA both knew two terrorists were in the USA–FBI assigned to a rookie who ignored it for a week and then mistakenly marked as a witness wanted, not as a terrorist armed and dangerous.

911 Commission did not visit NSA or ask NSA questions–neither the Commissioners nor the staff understood NSA or how it contributed to 911

New insights into the culture of lethargy and inter-agency competition, with details on multiple failures by CIA, NSA, and FBI–NSA had location in California but did not bother to look up area codes; CIA knew two were in US but would not tell FBI; CIA did not inform State, INS issued asylum without checking false name.

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Aug 11

Review: VICE–Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency


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23 Documented High Crimes That Should Put Cheney in Irons Immediately,

January 9, 2007
Lou Dubose
EDITED 5 September 2007 to add ten links to other related books.

This book is vastly more detailed, and covers more high crimes and misdemeanors, than either State of Denial, which misunderstands Bush as being in charge, or Crossing the Rubicon, which focuses primarily on Cheney’s role in first permitting 9-11, and then working assiduously to cover up his malicious malfeasance. See also Ron Susskind’s book, “One Percent Doctrine,” which crucifies Cheney, Rumseld, and Rice.

I take this book so seriously that I urge everyone to get the “Do It Yourself Impeachment” kit. He should be required to immediately resign or be impeached. He should not be allowed to serve another month in office.

For the sake of brevity, here is a list of impeachable offenses documented by this book:

1) Secret meetings in violation of the law to include exclusion of government experts
2) Refusal to honor demand from Congress for a list of participants
3) Lies to the public about Iraq, while holding maps of oil fields and already having in mind a US-only domination of those oilfields (he first focused on Iraqi oil while serving Secretary of Defense Brown)
4) Over-ruling of the Environmental Protection Agency on very important matters including its concern over Halliburton’s reliance on hydraulic fracturing that uses chemicals that contaminate aquifers–Cheney personally ensured that the EPA’s wording was replaced with Halliburton’s wording.
5) Consistent and pervasive usurpation of Congressional authorities and consistent and maliciously deliberate avoidance of appropriate disclosure.
6) Fostered attacks on Sy Hersh, and considered authorizing a break-in on his home.
7) From the 1970’s, see also Ron Susskind’s One-Percent Doctrine, subverted the authority of the Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, and teams with Justice Scalia (then an assistant attorney general) to increase executive privileges and push back reforms.
8) As a Congressman personally blew off Russian offer in 1983 for arms cuts, and subverted the authority of the President and the Secretary of State then serving.
9) As an extremist Republican, supported Ollie North and the White House in violating the Congressional prohibitions on aid to the Contras, and obstructed justice thereafter.
10) Page 78 has a lovely discussion of how Cheney and North were “in the zone” in deceiving the public and Congress during the televised hearings.
11) Adopted as his own the lunatic report by Khalizad (who is a very lazy scholar, see my review of his rotten RAND book on revolution) and Libby, on how the US as a superpower should be able to do ANYTHING.
12) Attempted to undermine due process and keep tactical nuclear weapons in the Army inventory.
13) Subverted the authority of the Secretary of State (Colin Powell) by allowing his daughter to overrule Ambassadors and meet privately with various heads of state.
13) Lied repeatedly to the public about his continuing financial equities with Halliburton, and was so involved in giving Halliburton up to 16 billion in no bid contracts.
14) Shut both foreign competitors and more cost-effective indigenous contracting solutions, severely harming the national security of the United States by fostering an environment of unproductive looting by Halliburton, Bechtel, and others.
15) Ignored his dual mandates on terrorism and intelligence. The book suggests that Bush was not briefed on Al Qaeda for the first eight months he was in office (the Vice President’s priorities were energy and missile defense).
16) Personally impeded negotiations with North Korea after they proved amenable to diplomatic engagement.
17) Personally rejected Iranian overtures for negotiation conveyed by the Swiss in 2003
18) Personally reinforced Rumsfeld on use of torture, by-passing the President’s more measured restrictions.
19) Conspired with Speaker Hastert to subordinate the House of Representatives, using a special office of his own (first time in history) so that Representatives could be brought to him rather than his calling on them.
20) Manipulated the President into numerous “signing statements” inconsistent with the will of Congress that ignored legislation then in force.
21) “Bureaucratically emasculated” the President (page 177–if the President has a friend that reads this review, PLEASE get the book and the review to the President–he really may have no idea his balls have been cut off)
22) Contemptuous and manipulative of the CIA, refusing to accept their best professional judgments based not only all source intelligence, but on a extraordinary effort by Charlie Allen in running line crossers into Iraq to document beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were no weapons of mass destruction there.
23) Lied repeatedly, over and over, to the public, to Congress, to the President, to foreign leaders, even after the lies were exposed he continued to repeat them.

The book does not discuss the 9-11 situation and emerging findings that place the Vice President at the center of our deliberately inept response.

Two gems apart from the impeachable offenses:

1) The search for a Vice President was a complete fraud, he was picked from day one, and made a fool of every serious candidate, while also personally leaking to destroy Keating just to ensure the only real rival would not be considered at the last minute.

2) The discussion of Joe Lieberman’s refusal to confront Cheney with all that was known to be wrong with him was explained at the time as “taking the high moral road.” I am not so sure. I speculate that Lieberman is actually a neo-con and has been playing the Democrats for fools while minding the interests of his Wall Street masters.

On page 147 the authors discuss how Cheney accused Clinton and Gore of “extend[ing] our military commitments while depleting our military power.” Lovely. And now?

The authors conclude that Dick Cheney is “nakedly amoral.” I agree.

One final scary note: in the many doomsday drills that Cheney participated in across his career and inclusive of his Vice Presidency, they always failed to reconstitute Congress.

Dick Cheney has done more damage and is a greater threat to our Republic and others, than Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein combined.

The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq
Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America
9/11 Mysteries Part 1: Demolitions
9/11: Press For Truth
9/11 – The Myth and the Reality
Aftermath: Unanswered Questions from 9/11

For those wondering why Congress failed to do its Article 1 job (hence all Members are impeachable for dereliction of duty as well):
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders

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Jan 9