Bruce Blog

Solomon: David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Bill Keller wish Snowden had just followed orders

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the New York Times reported on Sunday, “have renewed a longstanding concern: that young Internet aficionados whose skills the agencies need for counterterrorism and cyberdefense sometimes bring an anti-authority spirit that does not fit the security bureaucracy.

Agencies like the NSA and CIA -- and private contractors like Booz Allen -- can’t be sure that all employees will obey the rules without interference from their own idealism. This is a basic dilemma for the warfare/surveillance state, which must hire and retain a huge pool of young talent to service the digital innards of a growing Big Brother.

With private firms scrambling to recruit workers for top-secret government contracts, the current situation was foreshadowed by novelist John Hersey in his 1960 book The Child Buyer. When the vice president of a contractor named United Lymphomilloid, “in charge of materials procurement,” goes shopping for a very bright ten-year-old, he explains that “my duties have an extremely high national-defense rating.” And he adds: “When a commodity that you need falls in short supply, you have to get out and hustle. I buy brains.”

That’s what Booz Allen and similar outfits do. They buy brains. And obedience. Read more »

Solomon: The pursuit of Edward Snowden: Washington in a rage, striving to run the world

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By Norman Solomon


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber -- and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable.

Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day -- which is exactly what it can’t stand.

The central issue is our dire shortage of democracy. How can we have real consent of the governed when the government is entrenched with extreme secrecy, surveillance and contempt for privacy? Read more »

Solomon: Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother

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By Norman Solomon
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”


A terrible formula has taken hold: warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.

“National security” agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. “Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors,” the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.

“Much of the coverage of the NSA spying scandal has underplayed crucial context: The capacity of the government to engage in constant surreptitious monitoring of all civilians has been greatly enhanced by the commercialization of the Internet,” media analyst Robert McChesney pointed out recently. Read more »

Thunder from West Portal: Quentin Kopp savages the Warriors' Embarcadero Wall and its $220 million taxpayer subsidy

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(Scroll down to read Kopp's column from the Westside Observer)

When then State Sen. Quentin Kopp was appointed to the bench in San Mateo County, some of his fellow judges took him out to lunch.  “We hope you realize you have now given up your First Amendment rights,” he was told.

Judge Kopp did as he was told and kept silent for years on the bench on the many issues he felt strongly about and would have taken on in the public arena.   Today, however, he is retired, given up judicial restraint, and is back in action exercising his First Amendment rights with gusto. Operating from a desk in the office of Atty. Peter Bagatelos in West Portal, Kopp blasted the scavengers on behalf of an initiative aimed at upending the scavenger monopoly and controlling rates (he was right.) He has fired away at the RosePak/Willie Brown/Chinatown power structure on the Central Freeway.
He regularly blasts Mayor Lee for “compliancy” on big development, District Attorney for any number of misdemeanors and indiscretions, and former Sup. Sean Elsbernd for being Sean Elsbernd.

Now, in the current edition of the Westside Observer, Kopp has hit his stride with an acidic but well argued column titled appropriately, “The Art of Picking the Public Purse.”  Read more »

Bully for the ACLU! It went after the real lawbreakers

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Scroll down to read the ACLU complaint in the New York Times story

For me, the crucial question was not whether Edward J. Snowden broke the law but whether the U.S. government had broken the law in secretly setting up and secretly expanding what the American Civil Liberties Union called its “dragnet”collection of logs of domestic phone calls.

Read more »

Tonight: Watch Amy Goodman discuss NSA leaks on MSNBC's Chris Hayes show at 5:40 p.m.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Watch Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman tonight at 5:40pm  on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes. She will discuss the NSA leak and Edward Snowden.Read more »

In the meantime, see all of Democracy Now!'s coverage of the National Security Agency including interviews with NSA whistleblowers William Binney, Thomas Drake and Russell Tice, as well as reporter Glenn Greenwald, who exposed the secret PRISM spy operation, among other revelations.

Solomon: Historic challenge to support the moral actions of Edward Snowden

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. His moral action of whistleblowing -- a clarion call for democracy -- now awaits our responses.

After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” the revelations of recent days are a tremendous challenge to the established order: nonstop warfare, intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equate safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.

In the highest places, there is more than a wisp of panic in rarefied air. It’s not just the National Security Agency that stands exposed; it’s the repressive arrogance perched on the pyramid of power. Read more »

Solomon: An open letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

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By Norman Solomon


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Dear Senator Feinstein:

On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely advisory.

The Constitution doesn’t get any better than this: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The greatness of the Fourth Amendment explains why so many Americans took it to heart in civics class, and why so many of us treasure it today. But along with other high-ranking members of Congress and the president of the United States, you have continued to chip away at this sacred bedrock of civil liberties. Read more »

Solomon: Bradley Manning is guilty of "aiding the enemy"--if the enemy is democracy

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious -- and revealing -- is “aiding the enemy."

A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:

*  “Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?"

*  “In that case, who is aiding the enemy -- the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?”

Read more »

Solomon: Our twisted politics of grief

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By Norman Solomon
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State.”

Darwin observed that conscience is what most distinguishes humans from other animals. If so, grief isn’t far behind. Realms of anguish are deeply personal -- yet prone to expropriation for public use, especially in this era of media hyper-spin. Narratives often thresh personal sorrow into political hay. More than ever, with grief marketed as a civic commodity, the personal is the politicized.

The politicizing of grief exploded in the wake of 9/11. When so much pain, rage and fear set the U.S. cauldron to boil, national leaders promised their alchemy would bring unalloyed security. The fool’s gold standard included degrading civil liberties and pursuing a global war effort that promised to be ceaseless. From the political outset, some of the dead and bereaved were vastly important, others insignificant. Such routine assumptions have remained implicit and intact.

The “war on terror” was built on two tiers of grief. Momentous and meaningless. Ours and theirs. The domestic politics of grief settled in for a very long haul, while perpetual war required the leaders of both major parties to keep affirming and reinforcing the two tiers of grief. Read more »