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 Post subject: Snowden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:04 am 
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I've got some reservations, but on balance I think he did a good thing and I'm rooting for him to evade prosecution. I'm generally positively-disposed towards whistleblowers, even if they break laws in the process.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:19 pm 
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Valkenar wrote:
I've got some reservations, but on balance I think he did a good thing and I'm rooting for him to evade prosecution. I'm generally positively-disposed towards whistleblowers, even if they break laws in the process.

I have the same mixed sentiments, Justin.

The irony of it all is that he "exposed" relatively benign programs that are an offshoot of The Patriot Act. Only a handful of people in our government know what really goes on, as people in Washington can't keep their mouths shut. With 9-11, we as a country learned that we are in a war without end in the foreseeable future. People who would have us all living under Sharia law hate who we are and what we represent. Asymmetrical warfare is all about finding ways to do more with less, as with the Boston Marathon bombers. Those two - had they been halfway competent - could have done a *lot* more damage. As it is, they did plenty. Without video cameras (mostly private use) these two might have gotten away with what they did and proceeded on with their plan to do great damage in Time Square.

I guess I know a lot about many aspects of this. As much as an unmentioned Brit will come on and spew racial hatred about the Irish, I do appreciate that the (now defunct) IRA haunted London almost as much as the Anglo Saxons have caused generations of harm to the Irish. It's warfare plain and simple. Because of that, London is one of the most photographed cities in the world. You cannot do anything anywhere in London without a video camera capturing it. Real time software - the kind of stuff I was trained in during my biomedical engineering grad school days - performs facial recognition on the fly and can know who is where when need be. Because of this, it's very difficult to do harm to any British politician or the Royal Family. And the everyday Brit is incredibly safe, except for your random act of street violence.

What the NSA was doing was monitoring not the phone conversations, but the records of who was contacting whom, how many times, when, and for how long. Inferential statistical techniques are used to identify patterns of behavior the way people who do fraud analysis (credit cards, banks, healthcare) piece together the players in crime schemes. The NSA pretty much strong-armed the cell phone carriers to submit these data so they could be reviewed. Supercomputers go through the billions of connections of Person A with Person B and looks for patterns of communication between citizens here and neer-do-wells offshore. Many terror plots have been identified and thwarted long before anyone knew they were being conceived. We are safer because of it, but there's little appreciation that these efforts actually make us safer.

The issue is with our Constitutional rights and our (perceived) right to privacy. The thing we don't realize is that there is very little privacy. If you Google something, the trace is out there forever. Google about "inappropriate" porn and someone will know about it. If you buy something with a credit card, your pattern of use is known by the credit card companies and all the vendors they sell these data to. In my line of work I know about the health and heath care utilization of millions of people. HIPAA laws fortunately protect people from having these data used inappropriately, but I *will* be involved in (for lack of a better description) hunting people down who use the ER for primary care, or end up in the hospital because they're not regularly filling their diabetes or asthma meds. This is the world we live in. We have data recording every movement you make, and we have both the hardware and software to mine those data for patterns we're trying to monitor. By using various services, you have unwittingly given up some of your privacy. Sign up for special deals with your CVS card and you have sold your rights to shopping privacy. People know you get condoms, and what brand. They know how you clean your home, and what treats your dog eats. And these data are sold again and again. Your mailbox gets filled with junk mail, asking you to buy more of the same and convincing you that you need things you never knew you needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:22 pm 
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Welcome to the digital age. Don't like it? Don't use a computer. Don't use a credit card. Don't use your cell phone. Don't surf the web. Don't blog your personal views. Do all transactions in cash, behind closed doors. Or barter. Good luck! I've been trained in health care fraud detection and have seen the level of sophistication of the tools used. It's not *if* you can be monitored, but the degree to which you will be monitored. There's always *some* background surveillance going on. Once someone or something has triggered a process to identify something, the "diving in" can be done with great speed and thoroughness. How long did it take for Boston to find those two nobody losers? A week?

That said...


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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:25 pm 
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The thing that *really* pissses me off about the average Obama voter is that they did not listen to his speeches. I mean... really LISTEN to what he is saying. (Usually little to nothing.) When Newt Gingrich was in Congress, he used to talk about meeting President Bill Clinton and thinking when he left that they had an understanding. Usually they didn't. Bill Clinton had a way of articulating what was bothering people. But he could do so with great mastery without ever *promising* anything. You'd think he was going to do A or B, when all he wanted to do was to placate you in order to get your vote. At the end of the day, you felt fleeced. So too is it with Barack Obama. In his speeches he'd rant on and on about George Bush and all those horribly invasive things he was doing. He did actually promise to close down Guantanamo Bay and try everyone there in civilian courts. Well once the community organizer put on the Big Boy presidential pants and saw what was really going on, he bought into the entire cloak-and-dagger business without so much as a hint to the public that he found a new religion. And maybe... maybe he became the very person he campaigned against.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:28 pm 
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There's a reason we have term limits. As they say, Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So as for this Snowden guy... Well he's a naive idiot if he thought this stuff wasn't going on. He signed agreements when working as a subcontractor, and got paid based on those agreements that he signed. And now he wants to hide behind China's skirts while crying foul. And of course China - a country where the *military* is involved in cybertheft and DOS attacks - is just itching to give this guy asylum. Yep... all cloak-and-dagger stuff. Back in the Cold War if you flew your Mig jet into a U.S. airport, you were guaranteed asylum, a new identity, and would be set for life. Spy vs. spy in the modern world.

Image

It is what it is. Snowden exposed the obvious to the clueless out there. If folks don't think this is going on, then they're idiots. *I* knew... Public and private concerns both nose into your business if you let them. And you cannot be engaged in the world without it.

Yes, I am happy there are HIPAA rules, and I take them *very* seriously in my work. As for the rest of what goes on with our lives, well there's always that gray area between freedom and security. Being a Jeffersonian at heart, I'm pretty much in the "leave me alone" camp. Others not so much.

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."

- Benjamin Franklin


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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:12 am 
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Let's delete the big post?

I essentially agree about the wire-tapping. I don't think it's a big deal in and of itself, but I don't like the secrecy. I don't think it adds as much security as it adds potential for abuse. The government tends to want to keep everything secret these days, when really it should have to have a very strong reason for anything it keeps secret. Furthermore, Obama's crackdown on whistleblowers makes me happy to see whistleblowers get away. I didn't like the patriot act before and I don't like it now. My biggest disappointment about Obama is that he just merrily carried on Bush's civil-liberties infringing BS. Not that the wire-tapping is really a major infringement, but it's nice to see authority taken down a few pegs anyhow.

There's also a few more interesting issues. For instance, we can probably agree that Bradley Manning was mistreated (I'd call it tortured, but that's probably a controversial stance), which reveals how he was persecuted for embarassing the politicians. Seems to me that Snowden has a decent case for asylum on the grounds that if he's turned over to his home country he'll be tortured, using Manning as an example. What a state of affairs that a person can reasonably flee from the US to Ecuador to escape torture by the justice system.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:54 pm 
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Valkenar wrote:
we can probably agree that Bradley Manning was mistreated (I'd call it tortured, but that's probably a controversial stance), which reveals how he was persecuted for embarassing the politicians.

Sorry, Justin, but I am unaware of any evidence to this effect. You'll need to document that here. I'm not saying it didn't happen... I just have not seen any evidence of it.

Read more about Bradley Manning. He's a very sick puppy. What he did has a lot less to do with principle and a lot more to do with his psychological demons. And those go many layers deep from the unprovoked punching of a fellow female recruit (Specialist Jihrleah Showman) to self-diagnosed gender identity disorder. And this all before he was identified with the leaking of a large amount of classified material to Julian Assange.

..... Witnesses: Bradley Manning boasted of leak, had mental problems

- Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:57 pm 
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/no ... -treatment

Quote:
Manning's defence lawyers are attempting to have the charges thrown out or any eventual sentence reduced by seeking to prove that the soldier was subjected to unlawful pre-trial punishment at Quantico. During the nine months he was in custody at the marine base in Virginia he was put on suicide watch and a "prevention of injury" order, or PoI, that kept him in solitary confinement and exposed him to extreme conditions that were denounced by the UN and Amnesty International as a form of torture.


Quote:
Specifically, Hoctor was convinced that Manning no longer needed to be subjected to restrictive conditions that included: no contact with other people, being kept in his cell for more than 23 hours a day, being checked every five minutes, sleeping on a suicide mattress with no bedding, having his prescription glasses taken away, lights kept on at night, having toilet paper removed.


He may have needed suicide watch at some point, but extreme solitary confinement isn't exactly good for anyone's mental health. It's enough in my mind that I would worry about being mistreated if I did something to piss the government off enough to find an excuse to arrest me.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:54 pm 
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Valkenar wrote:
It's enough in my mind that I would worry about being mistreated if I did something to piss the government off enough to find an excuse to arrest me.

Justin is growing up!!! <sniff...> :-D


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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:35 am 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
Valkenar wrote:
It's enough in my mind that I would worry about being mistreated if I did something to piss the government off enough to find an excuse to arrest me.

Justin is growing up!!! <sniff...> :-D


I always felt that way, it's just we had a president you liked much better at the time, so you blew it off as necessary for national defense.

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 Post subject: Re: Snowden
PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:01 am 
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Enough about Manning, already. If they didn't put him on suicide watch (and by all accounts he has some serious mental health issues), and he killed himself, his fan club would say the govt let him do it, or even put him up to it. Put him on suicide watch, and the fanclub calls it 'torture.'

But it's not torture.

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