Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fwd: SEP Newsletter: The political implications of the NSA exposures

This was a November 2 posting from the WSWS. I help off on reposting it until after the election. BTW, you can subscribe to the WSWS  here - RMF

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Socialist Equality Party <>
Date: Sat, Nov 2, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Subject: SEP Newsletter: The political implications of the NSA exposures
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World Socialist Web Site

Socialist Equality Party Newsletter

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Dear SEP Supporters,
The past two weeks have seen a series of new exposures from whistle-blower Edward Snowden of massive and illegal NSA spying programs. As the perspective below explains, the crisis that these revelations has provoked in ruling circles is driven by the concern "not that terrorists will know what the US government is doing, but that the American people and broad masses of people around the world are beginning to see what the US government is doing... The collapse of democratic rights in the United States reflects a deep and unbridgeable social gulf between a parasitic financial aristocracy and the working class, the vast majority of the population. Those who dictate the policy of the government look around and see enemies, real and potential, everywhere."
Below we publish several reports from the WSWS over the past week. In addition to the perspective, "The political implications of the NSA exposures," this includes two articles that detail the exposures themselves--of a global spying operation on countries and states all over the world, and the secret theft of the entire data stream of Google and Yahoo, giving the NSA warrantless access to the communications of millions of people, including US citizens. A fourth article reviews the role of the mass media, and the New York Times in particular, as a component of the state apparatus.
The experience of the Obama administration has demonstrated that there exists no constituency within the political establishment for democratic rights. These rights must be defended, and the moves toward the establishment of a police state opposed, through the independent political mobilization of the working class against the entire capitalist system. The Socialist Equality Party is organizing this fight. For more information on joining the SEP, click here.


The political implications of the NSA exposures

2 November 2013
Underlying the crisis that has erupted over the latest National Security Agency (NSA) revelations is a deep fear within the ruling elite over the political consequences of the continuing exposures of its global spying apparatus.
Top officials in the Obama administration have predictably waved the bloody shirt of 9/11 to justify the programs and denounce those who have exposed them, above all, former NSA contractor-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden. Their real concern is not that terrorists will know what the US government is doing, but that the American people and broad masses of people around the world are beginning to see what the US government is doing.
What remains of the political and ideological foundations of capitalist rule in the United States? Since the end of World War II, the American government has sought to present itself as the leader of the "free world," the supposed champion of democratic rights and individual liberty.
It now stands exposed as the perpetrator of a global police state operation involving the illegal monitoring of the communications of hundreds of millions of people. With its vast data-bases, the American government has the ability to discover the social and political connections of virtually any individual. This negates the basic freedoms--speech, political assembly, privacy--laid down by the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
The Obama administration is implementing a "pivot to Asia," a geo-strategic reorientation aimed at containing the growing influence of China in the Pacific and beyond. It has routinely cited alleged Chinese cyber-spying as part of its ideological justification for an aggressive militarist policy. The exposure this week of "Special Collection Service" listening posts, jointly run by the CIA and the N SA, in Asia and all over the world makes clear that the United States, not China, is the main threat to the democratic rights of the people.
And what of the "war on terror"? US officials continue to evoke the still unexplained events of September 11, 2001 to justify every act of aggression and every attack on democratic rights. On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry, responding to the latest NSA revelations, insisted, without any evidence, that "we have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we've been able to learn ahead of time of the plans."
Kerry is lying. But he is speaking for a government and a political establishment that lie continuously and without restraint.
In testimony before Congress earlier this week, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence Jame s Clapper brazenly defended all of the spying programs, insisting they were all essential to the struggle against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Those who exposed the spying programs were endangering "national security," jeopardizing the lives of Americans, and aiding the terrorists, they argued.
But in the next breath, Clapper defended NSA wiretaps on the leaders of governments allied to the US, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on grounds completely unrelated to a supposed "war on terror." There was a whole range of strategic reasons, Clapper said, why Washington needed to know what US allies were thinking and saying.
Those reasons, which Clapper did not care to elaborate, have to do with the global hegemonic aims of American imperialism.
Not one congressman, Democratic or Republican, pointed out the glaring contradictions between what the two spy chiefs said one minute and what they said the next.
The entire political system has been caught out in a massive conspiracy against the democratic rights of the people. The elevation of Obama, the first African American president, was intended to give the ruling class a certain cover to continue unpopular policies. The "candidate of change"--the man whose election was hailed as "transformative" by pseudo-left organizations that promote the Democratic Party--has gone far beyond his predecessor, George W. Bush, in eviscerating core Constitutional rights.
When the first major NSA scandal erupted under Bush, the scope of the exposed program (the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program") was far more limited than many of the programs disclosed over the past five months by Snowden. The New York Times article in December 2005 detailed a program, initiated after September 11, 2001, that involved the warrantless monitoring of "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of emails and phone calls of individuals within the United States who were communicating with supposed terrorists overseas.
In response to these revelations, Bush felt compelled to insist that no monitoring of domestic communications took place without a warrant. Even prior to its public exposure, the program was sufficiently controversial to generate fissures within the Bush administration itself, including an internal revolt in 2004 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his deputy, James Comey.
With the full collaboration of the Democratic Party, the Bush administration carried out a tactical shift after the first NSA exposures. The Terrorist Surveillance Program was formally ended in 2007 and the American people were told that the warrentless spying had ended. Behind their backs, however, a new foundation for even more expansive programs was being laid.
Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to give retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and modify the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide a pseudo-legal cover for the spying programs. Among those voting for the bill was then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who took office six months later.
Bush's NSA chief Michael Hayden would note several years later that, under Obama and with the new law in place, "NSA is actually empowered to do more things than I was empowered to do under President Bush's special authorization."
Among the most significant revelations of the past week, and perhaps the most significant exposure yet by Snowden, is an NSA program to secretly gather in bulk all communications from Google and Yahoo. The personal communications of millions of American citizens, along with a significant portion of the rest of the world, are be ing monitored, searched and stored by the NSA without a warrant or even the pretense of judicial oversight.
All of this is blatantly unconstitutional. Obama himself is guilty of clearly impeachable offenses, not just for spying, but for the extra-judicial assassination of US citizens and other crimes. From the political establishment, however, there is no suggestion that the NSA programs should be shut down or that those responsible for them should be prosecuted.
Lawmakers are again discussing ways to put a fig-leaf of "transparency" on illegal activity, with Kerry suggesting that an effort is needed to "clarify and make clear for the people" what is being done. This, of course, is nonsense. The people are shocked, angered and frightened precisely because they have learned what is being done.
The collapse of democratic rights in the United States reflects a deep and unbridgeabl e social gulf between a parasitic financial aristocracy and the working class, the vast majority of the population. Those who dictate the policy of the government look around and see enemies, real and potential, everywhere.
On the basis of speculation and fraud, a tiny layer has amassed unprecedented wealth. Social inequality is greater than ever. Just yesterday, amidst record corporate profits and the unending flow of money from the Federal Reserve to Wall Street, the most basic form of nutritional assistance in the US, food stamps, was slashed, affecting more than 47 million people. More severe cuts are to come.
The ability of the ruling class to maintain its stranglehold through its traditional ideological and political structures is breaking apart. The emergence of individuals like Snowden and Manning is itself a reflection of shifts taking place more broadly. Within broad sections of the population, what is emerging is disgust and hostility to the entire system--a pre-revolutionary sentiment.
This sentiment must be given conscious expression and transformed into a socialist movement of the working class directed against the capitalism system.
Joseph Kishore

Secret NSA program gains "bulk access" to Google, Yahoo data centers

By Alex Lantier
31 October 2013
The National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on hundreds of millions of users of Google and Yahoo services, according to a report yesterday in the Washington Post based on internal documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The NSA has broken into the main communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data servers worldwide. In a program codenamed "MUSCULAR," operated jointly with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the agencies collect and monitor all communications--involving US and non-US citizens alike--between these servers.
Because the data culling is indiscriminate, the NSA refers to it as "full take," "bulk access" and "high-volume." After the communications are collected, they are searched based on undisclosed criteria, with much of it sent on to permanent locations run by the NSA.
The report shatters claims by the Obama administration and American legislators that US agencies respect privacy rights and operate under strict legal oversight. Testimony by spy agency chiefs before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, aimed at defusing the diplomatic crisis over the exposure of US spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of millions of phone and SMS communications in Europe, consisted of disinformation and lies.
A top secret NSA document shows that in the one-month period ending January 9, 2013 the MUSCULAR program sent back more than 181 million new records for storage at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. These records include both "metadata" information--such as the identity or location of the sender and receiver of messages--and the content of text, audio and video communications.
Google and Yah oo operate massive data centers around the world, backing up user information in multiple continents in order to prevent accidental data loss or system shutdowns. They also send backups of entire archives--containing years of e-mails and attachments--between various servers, which the NSA collects in bulk. NSA documents state that this allows the agency not only to intercept communications in real time, but also to take "a retrospective look at target activity."
Google engineers speaking anonymously to the Post "exploded into profanity" when journalists showed them NSA diagrams of "Google Cloud Exploitation," revealing how the NSA has broken Google's encryption schemes.
"The very clear objective of the NSA is not just to collect all this, but to keep it for as long as they can," journalist Glenn Greenwald told the Spanish daily El Mundo. "So they can at any time target a particular citizen of Spain or anywhere else and learn what they've been doing, in terms of who they have been communicating with."
NSA officials contacted by the Post and by Politico refused to deny the Post report or explain the specifics of the MUSCULAR program. An NSA spokeswoman told Politico, "NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we're focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only."
The claims of the NSA have no credibility, however. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court documents show that US spy agencies have already collected massive amounts of US citizens' data and lied about it in court. (See: "FISA records document "daily violations" by government spy agencies").
Google and Yahoo officials, who already hand over user data to the US government under the NSA's PRISM program, said they were unaware of this further NSA infiltration of their data centers. Google released a statement declaring that it was "troubled by allegations of government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity."
This report is yet another indication of how the US military-intelligence complex has developed through criminal means the surveillance infrastructure of a global police state.
The vast scope of the operations and their targeting of European heads of state have exposed as lies the claims that these programs are designed to fight Al Qaeda as part of a "war on terror." They target anyone seen as a potential threat to the strategic interests of the American ruling class, including not only European governments, but, above all, the populations of the United States, Europe and the world.
This activity has been carried out for years in brazen violation of US law, as even the FISA court, a secret court operating with no public accountability or oversight, has ruled. In 2011, when it discovered that similar methods were being used on a smaller scale to spy on data streams inside the US, FISA Court Judge John D. Bates ruled that the program was "inconsistent" with the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
The US government's attempts to reassure the public about the programs have consisted of staged disinformation sessions. Wednesday's hearing featured a carefully worded Joint Statement for the Record issued by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
The statement insisted that media reports about intelligence collection under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act and Section 702 of the Foreign In telligence Surveillance Act were "inaccurate." In the spying carried out under Section 215, they insisted, the spy agencies "do not collect the content of any telephone calls or any information identifying the callers, nor do we collect cell phone locational information." The Section 702 spying, it explained "targets only non-US persons overseas."
None of these claims refute reports that Washington is engaged in massive spying against US and overseas targets. Assuming that these statements were not bald-faced lies, they would simply mean that the spies use other pseudo-legal justifications for recording telephone calls and spying on US citizens.
In the case of the bulk seizure of Google and Yahoo data, the NSA has exploited the fact that the computer centers in question are located outside of the United States, with regulations falling not under FISA, but under an executive order. The data in question, howev er, is the same as that located in the companies' US centers.
"Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States," the Post writes, "but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner."
Despite the obvious evasions and lies of the intelligence officials, the congressmen fawned on the spy chiefs on Wednesday. Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger said he wanted to "thank the people of the intelligence community" and added: "NSA does not target Americans in the US and does not target Americans anywhere else, without a court order."
As the Post revelations make clear, Ruppersberger's claims are false and the entire hearing was a sham designed to mislead the public.

US spy chiefs defend wiretapping of foreign leaders, mass surveillance programs

By Barry Grey
30 October 2013
Appearing Tuesday before the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander defended the NSA's blanket surveillance programs, including its wiretapping of the heads of governments of US allies.
The intelligence chief's testimony came amidst a mounting international diplomatic crisis following revelations that the NSA tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for more than ten years, part of a surveillance program that also targeted at least 34 other government leaders. Trans-Atlantic tensions were compounded by reports that the NSA recently spied on 70 million telephone calls or text messages in France and 60 million in Spain in the space of one month.
The latest revelations of illegal mass spying by th e United States, stemming from documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have prompted protests from US allies such as Germany, France and Spain as well as the European Union. A delegation from the European Parliament is already in Washington, meeting with American congressional and administration officials, and separate visits from German intelligence officials and EU representatives are in the offing.
The fallout from the diplomatic crisis within the American state and political establishment is spreading. The Obama administration and Democratic Party leaders have launched an effort to limit the political damage and distract the public from the essential issue in the spy program revelations--the exposure of flagrantly unconstitutional policies and the development of the apparatus of a police state in America.
The administration has told the press that Obama knew nothing of the bugging of M erkel and other government heads until last June, when an internal review of NSA programs ordered in the wake of the initial revelations by Snowden brought the practice to his attention. Obama reportedly suspended the programs at that time.
This story, which the president evidently told Merkel in a private conversation last week, has been contradicted by unnamed current and former intelligence officials, who told the Los Angeles Times that long-standing protocols required that such information be made known to the State Department as well as the White House.
Administration officials denied a statement Monday by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (Democrat of California) that White House officials had told her Obama would order a halt to intelligence collection in friendly countries. Instead, administration sources said Obama was merely considering curtailing spying on leaders of allied nations.
In a television interview Monday, the president broadly defended the NSA surveillance programs, saying, "The national security operations, generally, have one purpose and that is to make sure the American people are safe and that I'm making good decisions." At the same time, he and other White House spokesmen have talked in vague terms of imposing restraints on the programs and making them more "transparent," in order to win the trust and confidence of the American people.
As far as Obama and both big business parties are concerned--as well as the corporate-controlled media--the crisis does not arise from the destruction of democratic rights, but rather the exposure of the state conspiracy against those rights, and the growing anger of the population, which is deeply opposed to such police state measures.
The entire establishment is fearful of the further discrediting of the political system in the eyes of the people. The exposure of the bugging of friendly foreign leaders, in particular, makes all the more absurd the official mantra that mass spying on the populations of the US and the world is motivated by the desire to protect the American people from terrorist attack.
Tuesday's House Intelligence Committee hearing provided a demonstration of the bipartisan support of both big business parties for the military/intelligence agencies and the blanket spying programs that have been sanctioned by the White House and Congress. The hearing was jointly staged by the Republican chairman of the committee, Mike Rogers of Michigan, and the ranking Democrat, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, to provide a platform for Clapper and Alexander to defend their agencies and dismiss the massive evidence of their illegal activities.
Rogers set the tone in his opening statement, in which he declared: "Every nation collects foreign intelligence. That is not unique to the United States. What is unique to the United States is our level of oversight, our commitment to privacy protections, and our checks and balances on intelligence collection."
Ruppersberger was, if anything, even more servile in his praise of the NSA. He began by saying he wanted to "thank the people of the intelligence community who work day and night to protect the security of our nation." He continued: "With all the criticism leveled at these programs, it is important that we first not forget that these men and women are doing what we have told them to do, within the confines of the laws we've passed, and doing so to keep us safe."
Simply ignoring the published evidence of NSA monitoring of the phone calls and emails of virtually every American, Ruppersberger stated, "Under FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillanc e Act), NSA does not target Americans in the US and does not target Americans anywhere else, without a court order."
He went on to assert that had the NSA in 2001 had its current mandate to collect information on every telephone call made in the US, the 9/11 attacks would have been stopped.
In their opening remarks, both Clapper and Alexander likewise raised the bloody shirt of 9/11, attempting to frighten the American people into accepting pervasive government snooping by claiming the alternative was more such tragedies. Clapper once again denounced the exposures of secret surveillance programs, claiming they undermined "lawful" efforts to "keep the country safe." He added that in his 50 years in intelligence, he had never seen such "an unending array of threats to our way of life" as at present.
Alexander similarly offered a blanket defense of NSA surveillance ope rations. "We have shown we can both defend our country and protect our civil liberties," he declared. He warned Congress not to "give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked."
Both men defended the mass collection of telephone data and Internet communications, while professing support for cosmetic "reforms" to make the programs more "transparent."
Chairman Rogers began the questioning by asking Clapper about spying on the US by foreign allies, which Clapper seized on to suggest that Washington was doing nothing out of the ordinary in tapping Merkel's cell phone.
Alexander categorically rejected reports of mass US spying on the communications of French and Spanish citizens, saying the reports were false.
Not one committee member from either party suggested that the programs were illegal or unconstitutional, that they shou ld be halted, or that those officials responsible for them should be impeached or prosecuted. Democrats, in particular, went out of their way to declare their abiding respect for the NSA. The furthest they would go was to suggest that tapping the phones of friendly government leaders was causing damage to American diplomacy and the pursuit of US interests abroad.
Typical were the remarks of Representative Terri Sewell (Democrat of Alabama), who began by declaring her "utmost respect" for the intelligence agencies and professing a desire to "reform these programs, not dismantle them."
No one mentioned Alexander's statement in an interview posted by the Pentagon on YouTube last week that media reports on secret spying programs should be "stopped." Instead, Rogers issued his own threat to the media, denouncing "very poor, inaccurate reporting" on the NSA and adding that this was "something we're going to deal w ith here in the future."
The hypocrisy of those officials who are attempting to carry out damage control is exemplified by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Feinstein. On Monday, she issued a statement complaining that she had not been "properly" informed of the surveillance of government leaders and declared her opposition to the practice.
She said her committee would launch a thorough review of all of the operations of the NSA.
Feinstein has vociferously defended all of the mass spying operations against the population. Less than two weeks ago, she published an op-ed piece in USA Today calling for a continuation of mass collection of telephone logs by the NSA, insisting the program was "not surveillance."
She has led the way in witch-hunting whistleblowers, denouncing Snowden's revelations last June as "an act of treason" a nd calling in 2010 for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act.
The report to be issued by her committee on the results of its "top-down" review of NSA operations, according to the Wall Street Journal, will be classified.

In exchange with Glenn Greenwald

Bill Keller defends role of New York Times in concealing government crimes

By Barry Grey
1 November 2013
Last Sunday, the web site of the New York Times carried an exchange of comments between the newspaper's former executive editor and current columnist Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has played the central role in publishing revelations of illegal National Security Agency spying based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In an introduction and in the course of his comments, Keller presents the exchange with Greenwald as a debate between "traditional" journalism, represented by himself and the Times, and the "more activist, more partisan brand of journalism" that he attributes to Greenwald.
In fact, the exchange is an attempt by Keller to whitewash his role and that of the Times in withholding information at the behest of the government and publishing state propaganda in the guise of "news."
The Times column appears in the midst of a deepening crisis facing the Obama administration and the entire political and military/intelligence establishment over continuing exposures of massive state spying on the people of the United States and populations all around the world.
The Times and the rest of the establishment media have sought to contain the crisis while attacking Snowden and other whistle-blowers such as Julian Assange and Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, aiding and abetting the efforts of the US government to witch-hunt and silence them. Journalists such as Greenwald who have helped disseminate Snowden's revelations have been vilified as criminals and traitors.
There is immense concern within the ruling class and the state over popular opposition to the police state programs, the discrediting of the entire political system, and the emergence of figures such as Snowden, who are prepared to sacrifice their careers and even their lives to break the official wall of silence and lies and bring the truth to the people. Keller's column appears at this time as part of the efforts at damage control and cover-up being carried out by the government, even as the preparations for mass repression are stepped up.
Keller's basic conceit is the claim that he and the Times embody a tradition of impartial and objective reporting, while Greenwald and his like distort the news in accordance with a political agenda. The supposed proof is the readiness of Greenwald to publish government secrets without proper deference to "national security" concerns.
Keller seeks to adopt a tone of collegial discussion in the exchange, masking the ve nomous hatred he and the Times harbor for Greenwald and whistle-blowers who expose US government crimes such as Assange, Manning and Snowden.
This year alone, the Times' chief foreign affairs commentator Thomas Friedman penned a column urging Snowden to turn himself in to US authorities to face prosecution under the Espionage Act, in order to prove that he is not a "traitor," and Keller himself published a vicious smear of Manningafter the young whistle-blower revealed that he had sought to get the Times to publish his documents revealing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the exchange with Greenwald, Keller disingenuously claims that his modus operandi is to "follow the facts" and let "the evidence speak for itself," and that as write r and editor he "defined my job not as telling readers what I think, or telling them what they ought to think, but telling them what they needed to know to decide for themselves."
In his contributions, Greenwald punches gaping holes in Keller's pretense of impartial devotion to the truth, pointing to the Times' role in promulgating Bush administration lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 US invasion, when Keller was a senior writer. He also noted Keller's personal decision as executive editor in 2004 to withhold until after that year's presidential election a story exposing warrantless NSA spying on Americans that had been authorized by Bush. Keller's decision followed a meeting at the White House at which Bush asked him to suppress the story.
Keller gives no substantive response to these points, other than to cite, without explanation, "national security" as his re ason for suppressing the NSA story for more than a year. And when Greenwald implies that the Times has avoided using the word "torture" in relation to waterboarding and other US atrocities in order to accommodate the US government, Keller seeks to dismiss this as an irrelevancy. Significantly, however, he does not deny the accusation.
After claiming, cynically and dishonestly, to be dedicated to the objective presentation of facts, Keller gets down to the heart of his dispute with Greenwald and other honest journalists who place the right of the public to know above the interests of the state. He writes: "The Times and other major news outlets give serious consideration to arguments that publishing something will endanger national security--that is, might get someone killed."
In equating "national security" with "saving lives," Keller parrots the stock-in-trade justification of the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and the Obama White House for police state surveillance and war crimes, including drone killings of thousands of civilians. He speaks quite naturally as a representative of the military/intelligence establishment, where, in fact, his true allegiance lies.
At one point in the exchange, he uses the "saving lives" canard to smear WikiLeaks, accusing Assange of "callous indifference" to the fate of "innocent informants" who collaborated with the US occupiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is equivalent to denouncing the anti-fascist resistance in World War II for exposing those who spied on their countrymen and collaborated with the Nazi occupiers.
In November of 2010, at the height of the damning revelations published by WikiLeaks on US actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, Keller published a piece declaring his unconditional support for the "war on terror" and stressing that in considering whether to disclose state secrets, the Times engages in "extensive and serious discussions with the government."
He wrote: "We agree wholeheartedly that transparency is not an absolute good. Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity."
As Keller made clear, he considers that his role and that of the Times is to serve the interests of the state and the ruling class, and not the right of the people to know. Rather than a Fourth Estate that assumes an adversarial relationship to entrenched power and defends the democratic rights of the people against the encroachments of the state, Keller p ractices a brand of "journalism" that would have no problem functioning under a military or fascist dictatorship.
Somehow, according to Keller, support for the "war on terror," which, as he is well aware, is a catch-all pretext for military aggression abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home, does not constitute a "political" bias. Nor does an embrace of "national security"--a euphemism for the foreign and domestic agenda of American imperialism.
In his introduction to the exchange with Greenwald, Keller lets slip his real attitude toward Greenwald and other journalists who are not, as he is, wedded to the state, and toward the emergence of the Internet as an alternative source of information to the establishment media. He refers to the "disruptive power" of the Internet.
This reflects a long-standing theme of Keller, who has for years warned the powers-that-be about the danger the Internet poses to keeping the public in the dark about the activities of the government.
In a November, 2006 lecture at the University of Michigan, Keller made the danger of "information anarchy" the center of his talk. The Times had come under attack from the Bush administration and Republican politicians for finally posting the story on NSA domestic spying and publishing a separate report on a secret Treasury Department-CIA program to monitor US and international banks.
Keller's entire talk was a thinly disguised appeal to the Bush administration to recognize the value of the Times in vetting the news and concealing state secrets. He said:
"Legions of Internet journalists include at least a few who would feel no compunction about disclosing life-threatening information. If a blogger hostile to the Bush administration managed to document sensitive secrets about the war on terror, would he stop to weigh the consequences of making them public? And once the information had rebounded through the blogosphere, how long would the major news organizations hesitate before picking it up?"
To underscore the point, he added, "Most of what the country knows about the secret activities of the government, it knows thanks to serious news organizations that still take their responsibilities seriously."
Thanks, in other words, to news organizations such as the New York Times that are "responsible" to the state and the ruling class, the people remain in the dark about the illegal and politically criminal actions of the government.
At one point in the exchange with Greenwald, Keller notes with evident satisfaction that whistle-blowers who are determined to expose state secrets must possess "a willingness to risk everythin g." He writes: "Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for the WikiLeaks disclosures, and Snowden faces a life in exile."
What Keller does not say is that those brave and principled individuals have to "risk everything" to alert the people about state crimes and conspiracies against their democratic rights precisely because "serious" news organizations such as the Times and pseudo-journalists such as Keller devote their efforts to colluding with the state to keep the people uninformed.
This makes them accomplices in crimes against humanity and co-conspirators in the preparations for police state rule
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