Robert Gorden on Obama and Snowden

Robert Gorden suggests that Edward Snowden may have been an unwitting tool of the NSA
when he leaked information about the NSA's programs of mass surveillance.
But perhaps he was (fortunately for us) really a tool of the Russians and the Chinese.

Here are perceptive comments by Robert Gorden appended to the article
by Pepe Escobar,
Vlad the Hammer vs Obama the Wimp (published August 9, 2013).
Two comments by Peter Meyer are appended.

August 9:

Obama is a weasel. That is not the same as being weak. He likes to present himself as peaceful. He likes to prosecute wars below the radar so it looks like he has clean hands. He attacks the weak. When caught he will say it would have been worse if my political adversaries were in office. You peace loving people are lucky you have me. He likes the role of the "good cop" against McCain who plays the "bad cop". It is all the same BS, but it keeps his political constituency in line.

August 10:

Obama has accomplished what he was hired to do. That is, take a bankrupt American banking system and reload it with public funds. No one ever expected Obama to lead militarily.

Internationally he only had to continue existing policies which included the finishing of the encirclement of Russia, the beginning of the encirclement of China and the continuation of the destruction of nation states in the Middle East, with an eye to area conquest under the banner of the Empire and some agreeable form of Islam. Obama has been doing his job, with varying degrees of success.

It is my albeit unpopular view that the Snowden incident was set up, as he was never properly vetted and there was ample data available that he had views that were not friendly to the government.

The reasons for unleashing Snowden upon the world were threefold. First, it is an attack an Obama who is now a lame duck and has outlived his usefulness. More of these attacks will follow as the powers that be seek to put Baby Bush [Marvin Bush? Jeb Bush? - ed.] in the White House in '16 so they can prosecute their war against Iran, which is necessary for their global vision [of "full-spectrum dominance" - ed.].

But first they had to reload their banking system.

Second, Snowden's revelations would let them gage the level of popular push-back they would suffer when the world would eventually learn about their behavior. If the world knows at an early stage and there is no real push-back, it will act as an innoculation later when global central control is pushed to more intolerable levels.

And for that the Empire has done very well. Lots of populist chatter but the leaderships of the usual two tweedle dee tweedle dum parties always make it clear behind closed doors that it is going to be business as usual, even if they will have to make window dressing reforms to please their constituencies.

As far as global snooping goes, what the Empire learned from Snowden is: it's all systems go.

And finally the most important element of why Snowden, is to make it clear especially to global intellectuals who are always the ones who create the most problems for the ruling classes, that they are being watched, that everything they do or say is going to be recorded and, I might add, a psychological profile of those whom the Empire deems interesting will be created.

These weapons of mass tyranny that Snowden revealed unleash most of their power by creating fear in the hearts of their adversaries. The Empire does not really want to drag people away. They just want you to shut the ____ up.

August 11:

A full response to Pepe Escobar.

As a proud citizen of the free world I was cut to the quick when you called our leader a “wimp”. [Note irony - ed.] Actually he has developed a style so powerful it will be taught at Shaoling for at least the next 500 years.

It is called the “Eloquent Weasel” technique. It is a non-confrontational style in which the user encourages his (or her) opponents to beat themselves up and afterwards say, “Thanks, I needed that”.

Obama was hired to take a bankrupt banking system and reload it with public funds (and debts). At this writing he has completed this job, and after having looted the public he has gotten them to say, “Thanks, I guess someone had to do that”.

Now you may say that home court victories are easy. How can you fail with a vigilant press like CNN or the New York Times?

It is victories away from home that show the efficacy of a new technique. But I would argue that Obama has demonstrated the raw power of this technique on the road as well.

When he was hired there were still outstanding jobs abroad for him to complete and begin. They included the military encirclement of Russia and China as well as the destruction of nation states in the Middle East, leaving failed states in their wake so they could be more readily united under the Empire’s flag with some pliable form of Islam.

While the Middle East is still clearly a work in progress, Obama has finished off Iraq as a failed state while Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Egypt are either there or close. And don’t get me started on Afghanistan. So give our leader some credit, Don Pepe.

But the real power of the Eloquent Weasel style could be seen in a Pew Research poll, admittedly before Snowden but AFTER all of the rest of what I wrote about had occurred. Just as the American Sheeple love Obama even after having been pillaged by him, Russian, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, European and African Sheeple thought he was hot stuff as well.

Only those recalcitrant Middle Easterners hadn’t yet learned that what is happening to them is for their own good. Like me and everyone else they will learn to love Big Brother (or is it Big Bama?).

To fully understand how incredible this is, think about it. If Vlad the Hammer could as a practical matter surround the US with anti-missile systems, with aircraft carriers covering its Atlantic and Pacific coasts and with such systems in place throughout the Canadian and Mexican borders, well, that would be an awesome feat for him as a Russian, right?

But now what if he could do that and still get the majority of Americans [in Obama's case, Russians and Chinese - ed.] to think that he was a great guy? Would you not worship a man like that as possibly the harbinger of the second coming?

So you the Pepe possy, when you denigrate our great leader think twice. In the good cop bad cop model of one of our typical great democracies, only the local bad cops (the McCain-FoxNews-ers) are allowed to call or imply that Obama is a wimp.

First comment by Peter Meyer, 2013-08-14:

GAO - Global Access Operations
The global surveillance state never sleeps ...
As Robert Gorden writes, the NSA programs that Snowden revealed, namely, PRISM, XKeyscore, Stellar Wind, Boundless Informant, Tempora (and others yet to be revealed in The Guardian), are intended to be most effective by creating fear in the minds of those opposed to the surveillance state and its all-encompassing snooping on everybody (and on corporations, from whose communications the NSA obtains a gold mine of financial and other confidential information). The surveillance state "does not really want to drag people away" (although this may become more common, as routine as it was for the Gestapo in Nazi Germany) — they just want you to shut the fuck up.

So those who succumb to fear — to the fear of having their email messages read by one or more of the secret operatives sitting at consoles at the NSA, GCHQ, CSE, GCSB or the DSD/ASD — are cowards, even if they never say a word to oppose the surveillance state. They are willing to allow a totalitarian tyranny to emerge and to obtain complete control over all members of any society within its reach, including those members yet to be born. (If your message contains something you don't want the spooks to read then encrypt it, not from fear but to keep it private.)

So if bloggers and writers of articles speak out in opposition, will this have any effect, or will the surveillance state simply ignore them, secure in the belief that those writers' criticism and condemnation will not inspire the sheeple to actually do anything to reform or overthrow the surveillance state? Can the surveillance state be eliminated only by defeat in war?

Efforts to oppose the surveillance state short of war, by vocal opposition in articles, blogs, protest rallies, etc., may seem ineffective, but they can help in bringing down the surveillance state by legal means, namely, by revoking the legislation (such as the so-called Patriot Act of 2001) which give a veneer of 'legality' to its crimes against its citizens, and by bringing in new legislation which make it illegal to spy on any person or any corporation except for the purpose of defending against the possibility of military aggression. Appeals to "national security" will not be enough (this is already the usual 'justification' used by the surveillance state). Spying by a government is justified only when directed against a threat to its citizens which can be known to be a threat by a public examination of the evidence for that. Government secrecy has no place in a government which represents the interests and welfare of those governed by it.

The U.S. and the U.K. governments have passed laws which make everything they do 'legal' (or at least, to appear 'legal'), just as the Twelve-Year Reich did during 1933-1945, and it seems unlikely that their citizens can do anything to overturn those laws. But the situation is not the same in those countries which see themselves as allies of the U.S., where the surveillance state is still being built. The problem is that, just as it took years to build up the legal 'justification' for the surveillance state, it will take years to dismantle it in the same way (given that elections are held only every few years).

It may be that the surveillance states of the U.S. and the U.K. (and in any other countries where the government succeeds in establishing a totalitarian tyranny) can only be brought down by a global war (a cyberwar only, if we are lucky, otherwise every form of war up to and including nuclear war), just as the anti-fascist states of the world finally succeeded (with much suffering and destruction) in annihilating the fascist governments of Germany and Italy in WW II.

Second comment by Peter Meyer, 2013-10-11:

Edward Snowden managed to leak to The Guardian (with subsequent publication) large numbers of highly classified NSA documents revealing an attempt at total surveillance of US and world communications, and one possible explanation of this (as mentioned above) is that this revelation was set up by the NSA itself with the intention of instilling fear into the hearts of all those who would oppose the U.S. government and the would-be rulers of the world by informing those opponents that everything they do and say is being monitored.

But if so, this strategy carried big risks for the NSA, due to "blowback". As we have seen, the publication of the NSA documents triggered a firestorm of protest, not so much by the sheeple in the U.S., but by people in other countries, whose dislike of the U.S. has been increased to the point of contempt. All advocates of the right of privacy and of the right of citizens to be informed about the workings of their government have loudly applauded The Guardian's release of this information about the NSA's activities (see 'What the Guardian is doing is important for democracy'). And now legislation is being introduced by the U.S. Congressman who authored the Patriot Act (Jim Sensenbrenner), and separately by Senator Patrick Leahy, to drastically curtail the activities of the NSA. The Guardian reports that Sensenbrenner's bill

seeks to limit the collection of phone records to known terrorist suspects; to end "secret laws" by making courts disclose surveillance policies; to create a special court advocate to represent privacy interests; and to allow companies to disclose how many requests for users' information they receive from the USA [government]. The bill also tightens up language governing overseas surveillance to remove a loophole which it has been abused to target internet and email activities of Americans.

If those running the NSA set Snowden up to leak the NSA files, with the intent of intimidating dissidents, did they not foresee that the effects of this might well have negative consequences for the NSA itself, such as this proposed legislation to curb its activities. So either they are fools (quite possible) or the hypothesis that the NSA itself set up Snowden to leak the documents is unlikely.

There is an alternative, and more plausible, explanation. First we have to take notice of a fact mentioned by John Lanchester in his article The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ:

Bear in mind also that these [leaked NSA] documents were widely circulated: out of the 4.9 million Americans with access to classified information, 480,000 private contractors in the US had the "top-secret" security clearance issued to Snowden. If hundreds of thousands of people had access to these secrets, how secure were they? The NSA and GCHQ had no idea that Snowden had this material, and apparently still don't know exactly what is in it — which is one reason they've been panicking and freaking out. But if they didn't know that Snowden had copied it, how could they possibly be sure that someone else hasn't also taken a copy and slipped it to the Chinese or Russians or Iranians or al-Qaida?

It is standard practice for intelligence agencies to place spies within the intelligence agencies of other countries, and obviously the NSA would be a prime target. If just 1 in 10,000 of the "480,000 private contractors in the US [who] had the 'top-secret' security clearance issued to Snowden" was a Russian or Chinese spy, then there were about fifty such spies who were in a position to obtain the documents that Snowden did. And if they were in a position to do so, we may assume that they did, and that these documents were passed to the Russian and the Chinese intelligence agencies months or perhaps years before Snowden saw them. The Russians and the Chinese have insisted that they have neither received, nor attempted to extract, any of Snowden's secrets. Probably because they already had them all. They were secret only from the public.

It is not likely that the Russians and the Chinese are especially concerned about the NSA spying on American citizens. What likely concerns them is the information obtainable from the NSA's spying on the communications of financial, political, commercial and industrial companies and organizations. The advantages to be had from this spying is illustrated by the article "Israeli military intelligence unit drives country's hi-tech boom":

Similar to Britain's GCHQ, [Israeli military intelligence] Unit 8200 manages Israel's army signals intelligence, sucking in and analysing vast amounts of electronic data, from wiretapped phone calls and emails to microwave and satellite broadcasts. ... [Several] Israeli tech firms ... were all created by 8200 alumni or based on technology originally developed by the unit.

But it is not necessary for Israel to suck in vast amounts of data because the NSA gives their own raw, unfiltered data to them (see the article "NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel"), no questions asked.

Thus through the use of information gathered (mostly courtesy of the NSA) from electronic surveillance Israeli high-tech firms have achieved remarkable commercial success compared with firms in countries to which the NSA has not been so generous.

It is not just technical information which can provide an advantage. The ability to eavesdrop on supposedly confidential communications among banks and financial companies and organizations, and those of government departments, provides those who run the NSA with a goldmine of information (which might well be available to those outside the NSA if sufficient financial inducement is offered).

The Russians and the Chinese presumably have long known all this, and presumably do not approve of the advantages which the U.S. has due to the NSA's blanket surveillance of electronic communications. How might they counter this? They might themselves have directly revealed the NSA's surveillance programs (PRISM, XKeyscore, Stellar Wind, Boundless Informant, Tempora, Bullrun, Edgehill and others still unknown to the public), but Western news media would be unlikely to publicise (or believe) leaks known to originate from Russian or Chinese intelligence agencies. What was needed was a credible U.S. source. And this was provided by Edward Snowden.

In his first interview with The Guardian Snowden said:

When you're in positions of privileged access like a systems administrator for the sort of intelligence community agencies, you're exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale then the average employee and because of that you see things that may be disturbing but over the course of a normal person's career you'd only see one or two of these instances. When you see everything you see them on a more frequent basis and you recognize that some of these things are actually abuses. And when you talk to people about them in a place like this where this is the normal state of business people tend not to take them very seriously and move on from them.

But over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about. And the more you talk about the more you're ignored. The more you're told its not a problem until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public and not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.

It may well be that among the 50 or so Russian or Chinese spies also working for the NSA as private contractors, one of them (not known to Snowden as a spy) suggested that, in order for "these things need to be determined [that is, evaluated and decided upon] by the public" they first had to be revealed to the public, and the only way for that to happen without the whistle-blower being arrested for espionage (and subsequently spending many years in prison) was for the whistle-blower to leave the U.S. before exposing the NSA's massive surveillance. But just leaving the country before doing this would be risky, since the U.S. has extradition agreements with many countries. So our hypothetical Russian or Chinese spy might have suggested a flight from Hawaii to Hong Kong and, if necessary, a subsequent flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, where political asylum would likely be granted (with, of course, an appearance of initial indecision and some reluctance by the Russian government).

Edward Snowden safe in Russia Thus could be accomplished the wishes of the Russian and Chinese governments to reveal to the American people (and to the rest of the world) the extent of the massive violation of their right to privacy by the U.S. government, with the possibility that not only would people condemn the U.S. for this massive violation but the U.S. government itself would be forced by public pressure to seriously curtail the NSA's blanket surveillance.

The description of this scenario is not intended to suggest that Edward Snowden knew that this was a Russian or Chinese operation. He may well have believed that it was entirely his own plan, carried out by himself alone, although he was no doubt relieved when the Hong Kong government and the Russian government prevented him at crucial points from falling into the clutches of the U.S. government. Snowden is a hero, and it is very gratifying to see that he is now safe in Russia, and may he long live there comfortably.

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