Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 26, 2014
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was intended to provide clear democratic access and oversight of federal intelligence and security agencies—the CIA, NSA, FBI and DIA specifically—by giving individual citizens a mechanism to request and receive classified documents being held by those agencies. But when MIT PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro made FOIA requests of three of the above agencies for documents regarding allegations that a CIA tip led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela by South Africa’s apartheid government in 1962, and Mandela’s subsequent internment in prison for 27 years, all three stonewalled Shapiro and denied his FOIA requests on grounds of national security, national defense, and executive privilege.
The Catch 22 Squared around this needs to be emphasized. The CIA, NSA, FBI and DIA are tasked with protecting national security, and thus see threats to national security at every turn and under every rock. The anti-war, anti-apartheid, and radical green movements, everything from the Left to Occupy Wall Street, have all been considered threats to national security and potential sources of domestic terrorism. Nelson Mandela himself was denounced as a Marxist terrorist, and remained on the US terror watch list until 2008. US security and intelligence agencies have been, and continue to be instrumental in the surveillance and subversion of all these progressive movements. For these agencies, the FOIA itself is a threat to national security, and those who request classified material through the FOIA are also considered threats to national security. In the case of the NSA, that agency completely refused to acknowledge the very existence of the documents requested by Shapiro in denying his FOIA application.
Shapiro, who has made 400 odd FOIA requests over other issues in the past, decided to draw the line when the CIA, FBI, NSA and DIA used their official position to thwart his FOIA requests regarding Mandela by issuing repeated national security exemptions. In January 2014, Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the CIA, DOD, DOJ and NSA for their non-compliance.
“The failure of the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to comply with my FOIA requests for records on Mandela highlights that FOIA is broken and that this sad reality is just one component among many of the ongoing crisis of secrecy we now face,” Shapiro says. The issue for him is that the public needs to keep the government accountable. “It’s not surprising those in power wish to keep their actions secret. What’s surprising is how readily we tolerate it. We are all familiar with the security-oriented signage instructing us to ‘See something, Say something.’ In the interest of promoting a fuller conception of national security, I add, ‘See something, Leak something.’ The viability of our democracy may depend upon it.”
It’s simple. See something, Leak something.
Posted in CIA, FBI, Federal Government, life, NSA, terrorists | Tagged: Bradley Manning, CIA, DIA, Edward Snowden, executive privilege, FBI, Federal Governmebt, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, national defense, national security, national security exemption, Nelson Mandela, NSA, Ryan Shapiro, See Something Leak Something, terrorists, US security and intelligence agencies, whistleblowers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 29, 2013
Ah, Yiddish. It’s such an expressive language. With the violent destruction of most of eastern European Jewry, the immigration of those who survived to the United States or Palestine has seen Yiddish threatened by assimilation in the case of the former and by outright disapproval in the case of the latter. I’ve discussed the potential revival of Yiddish with a local book vendor who once recommended I read IJ Singer’s The Brothers Ashkenazi. He contends that without a truly vital large-scale (read “national”) Jewish culture in which Yiddish can be nourished, the language is ultimately doomed.
Be that as it may, consider the variety of Yiddish words for the word penis alone. Putz, schmuck, schmeckel, shlong, shvantz, and the one I’m featuring here, pud. I recently wrote a science fiction story in which PUD features prominently as an acronym for Public or Private Urban Drone. P.U.D., get it?
In my near future, urban drones are ubiquitous, owned and operated by public or private entities such as the police or corporations. First off, it is perfectly legal for individuals to own their own drones and spy on their neighbors. Then, there’s the potential for corporate ownership of drones, already a reality. The use of police drones is a highly contentious issue, as is the FBI’s use of drones for domestic spying. Perhaps the most interesting, and most scary site I’ve linked to in this post is DIY Drones, which speaks for itself.
DIY?!? Remember when punk rock first started using the term do it yourself? Now we’re talking about DIY drones!
Yiddish is discouraged in Israel as a gutter or mongrel language by the Israeli state and the Hebrew speaking Israeli society. Which is why I love this joke:
Retiring from a big corporate job in LA, Marvin moves to Tel Aviv. (So nu, you were thinking maybe he’d move to a kibbutz?)
Wanting to contribute to nation-building somehow he focuses on stock-trading, the only vocation he knows. But, to commute to his new humble penthouse office, he refuses to drive a Mercedes like everyone else so he buys himself… a camel.
Every night Marvin parks his camel in the garage under his Tel Aviv Condo and the next morning he mounts the camel for the commute to his new office in Ramat Gan.
One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone… stolen!
He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is “What color was your camel?”
Marvin replies he doesn’t remember, “Probably camel colored I guess… sort of brownish-greyish.”
“And how many humps on your camel?’ asks the policeman.
“Who counts humps… one, maybe two, I don’t know for sure.”
“And the height of the camel, sir?”
“What’s with these dumb questions?” Marvin asks. “The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can’t be certain.”
“Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?”
“Ah, that I know for sure he was a male.”
“How can you be so certain of his sex when you don’t remember anything else about your camel” asks the policeman.
“Well,” says Marvin, “everyone knows he’s a male. Every day I’d ride the camel to work through the streets of Tel Aviv and people would stop and say to each other… ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel!’ “
Posted in Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, corporations, Drones, FBI, life, Military Drones, NSA, police, Police Drones, private contractors, Private Drones, privatization of war, punk rock, security privatization, U2, US military, Yiddish | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 28, 2013
FBI surveillance activities, CIA spying and drone programs, NSA PRISM and XKEYSCORE programs. And that’s just the stuff we know about. Since 9/11, state surveillance has been ramped up, to the point where even dyed-in-the-wool national security apologists are worried that we might be a tad closer to a police state.
Old school Republicans and Democrats believe that if the government wants to listen in on their phone calls, or read their emails, in order to keep their asses from being blown off, fine by them. The state doesn’t care if they’re cheating on their spouse or sharing juicy gossip about their neighbors. They just want to be secure. The Left, and self-styled libertarians, are freaked out that, with each revelation and leak, we’re one step closer to losing our freedoms, and one step closer to fascism, or communism, depending on your ideological bent. They’re fond of quoting Benjamin Franklin who said: “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”
A halfway decent, ongoing PBS program covering many of these issues is Frontline’s Top Secret America.
Posted in CIA, Democrats & Republicans, FBI, libertarians, National Security State, NSA, the Left | Leave a Comment »