The security state: Links & comments 8/26/13

Over the weekend my friend Daniel Brandt e-mailed me a link to an article by Julian Assange wrote for The Stringer, an on-line Australian newspaper, about how Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, works hand in glove with Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, performed covert missions for State Department.

Google and the NSA: Who’s holding the ‘shit-bag’ now? by Julian Assange for The Stringer.

Assange wrote that once, when Wikileaks tried to communicate with Hillary Clinton at the U.S. State Department, the caller was transferred to people at successively higher levels of the State Deparment until someone promised a call-back.

The call was returned, however, not by a State Department employee, but by Lisa Shields, who was Eric Schmidt’s girl friend.  The fact that she was Hillary Clinton’s chosen back channel of communication shows how tight are the top people in Google and the government.

Jared Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, was recently in Azerbaijan performing secret missions for the State Department.  According to a leaked e-mail from Stratfor, an important U.S. intelligence contractor, Cohen was doing things that the CIA could not do and that he was likely to get caught.  The e-mail said exposing the operation might not be a bad thing because the U.S. government could disavow it and Google would be left “holding the shit-bag.”   There’s more in the article, but these are the high points.

julian-assange-credit-300x178Assange is amazing.  Here he is, a fugitive from the U.S. legal system, unable to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and he still is leading Wikileaks (with the help of others), revealing new information, helping Edward Snowden in Moscow and running for the Australian Senate as the candidate of a Wikileaks Party.

Julian Assange interviewed on what the Wikileaks Party will mean to the Aboriginal peoples by Gerry Georgatos for The Stringer.

Assange seems well-informed about Aborigines and their current plight, considering how long he’s been away from his native Australia and considering how many other things he has to think about.

StratforLeaks: Google Ideas Director Involved in ‘Regime Change’ by Yazan al-Saadi for Al Akhbar English, in 2012.  [Added 8/28/13]

NSA Domestic Spying: Mathematicians Should Speak Out by Charles Siefe for Slate.  Hat tip to Jack Clontz.

Charles Siefe, a mathematician who worked for the National Security Agency briefly in the 1990s, wrote that in those days the nation’s top mathematicians flocked to the NSA out of patriotism and the desire to do challenging and important work.  In those days, he wrote, the NSA in those days respected the legal limits of its mission and also was untroubled by leaks.

It’s possible that both the excesses and the leaks in those days were more than Siefe was aware.   Still, I  do think there is a connection between a government agency respecting the law and its employees being loyal to the agency.

Is the NSA Actually Aware of All Internet Traditions? Some Thoughts on Incompetency by Mike the Mad Biologist.  The U.S. tradeoff of freedom for security hasn’t produced much security.

Nasdaq crash triggers fear of data meltdown by Juliette Garside for The Guardian.  Another hat tip to Daniel Brandt.  The crash of NASDAQ – the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations system – indicates information systems are becoming too complicated to understand or control, some experts warn.

I’d say systems failure is a greater threat to Americans than terrorism is.  What happens with the huge and complicated NSA data system crashes? Or develops bugs?

Drawing Down: How to Roll Back Police Militarization in America by Radley Balko for Slate.

How to Stop Violent Crime Without Stop and Frisk by Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic.

Epistle to the Ecotopians: Ernest Callenbach’s Last Words on TomDispatch.  Another hat tip to Jack Clontz.   Ernest Callenbach published his classic utopian novel Ecotopia in 1975.  Set in what is now the present, it described a sustainable egalitarian society in a new nation created by the succession of Washington, Oregon and northern California.  Callenbach died last year, and this despairing message is the last thing he is known to have written.

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2 Responses to “The security state: Links & comments 8/26/13”

  1. EthnicKonflict Says:

    I already knew about the shenanigans of characters at Google such as “Schmidt” and “Cohen.” Did you know that Schmidt visited North Korea at the start of the year and convinced the government to open up mobile networking to visiting foreigners?


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