While You Gloat About Snowden, The FBI is Watching You

You know, I hate to rain on the little “courage is contagious” Snowden parade currently marching through the internet in all its idiotic, chest-beating glory, but unfortunately the Associated Press doesn’t share my reluctance. Today it reported that:

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government…

Did you see that bit there kids, about cellphone surveillance? But you can continue to ridiculously whoop it up since a spokesperson for the FBI assured AP’s reporters that:

the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

Of course the planes don’t do bulk collection. There are phone companies for that, and they’re still obliged to give up records to law enforcement agencies, including the NSA and FBI, whether they want to or not.  But should those channels fail, there’s always the U.S. Marshals service and their spy planes, which according to the Wall Street Journal –

scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location…

This would be an odd thing to resort to, though, since the FBI planes use the same “dirtbox” technology as the U.S. Marshals. Perhaps the FBI spokesperson who talked to AP differs on what you and I might call bulk.

Since our instructions are to be all about the phones right now, let’s try not to think about this bit in the AP story at all:

the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Bulk video collection. Cool.

AP reports that FBI planes were used in coordination with local police during the protests that followed the murder by police of Freddie Gray.

On the ground and in the air, the FBI uses devices that mimic cell phone towers and collect data from all phones within a certain area. That means your phone if you happen to be near a target of an investigation. We’re being told that use of these FBI “roving wiretaps” is among the Patriot Act provisions that expired. But there’s no indication of any new constraints on the one in four local police departments that also do warrantless roving wiretaps, and bulk collection via “tower dumps” that provide data on the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to an individual cellphone tower over a set timespan.

According to USA Today, police are coy about what they do with the cellphone data of non-targets, but there are private companies that sell police departments software for analyzing it. As I wrote about here, local cops can also buy software for analyzing public data like Facebook and Twitter posts. Imagine the possibilities of analyzing that data and cell phone data together. Certainly someone already has.

This is bad enough on its own, but considering the veritable federalizing of cops since 9/11 in large cities is there anything to prevent the FBI or the NSA from delegating the paltrey few things they can’t do to local police? But in a few days, that won’t really matter, at least not for a while. The Freedom Act, the NSA “reform” bill,  could pass some time this week or next, at which time the NSA will have six months to transition to the proposed new system, which requires a FISA rubber stamp for cell phone data collecting. So all this chest-beating is really about a few days alleged respite from one small element of one agency‘s spying activities.

I’ve said before that among the worst things about the Snowden Show is how, by focusing almost entirely on a single agency, it minimizes a massive surveillance and control apparatus that includes sixteen other Federal agencies, scores of private companies, and state and local police.  Even if you arbitrarily restrict your inquiry to signals intelligence — the only thing the NSA does –unless you are investigating the signals intelligence activities of the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, local police and the companies they work with, you’re barely scratching the surface.  Stories like today’s AP revelations about surveillance planes come and go constantly. But the motto of the infosec cabal’s big players seems to be, “NSA docs or it didn’t happen.”

This narrow focus is worse than foolish. It’s a pernicious lie.


I missed this, from yesterday.

[Rand] Paul also proposed hiring 1,000 new FBI agents to track potential terrorists.

My hero.

Oh and here’s the only thing Greenspleen has tweeted about the FBI story, while busily RTing tributes to Ed Snowden’s great virtue for bringing us to this point.

Greenwald on FBI

Is it obvious yet that these clowns don’t give a shit about the security state in any meaningful sense? Greenwald is all about the whistleblower/journalist metanarrative he stars in. Paul just wants to make a pre-election spectacle of moving the chairs around.

But astroturfers gonna astroturf, right?


Mass Surveillance and Look, No NSA! It Happens!

Fuck These Google Guys

If It Isn’t Anti-Capitalist, It’s Astroturf

Philip Agee and Edward Snowden Compared

In Conclusion

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92 Responses to While You Gloat About Snowden, The FBI is Watching You

  1. Honeytrap Disinfectant says:

    There is a fundamental difference between what you do and what people like Snowden/Manning/Schwartz do… they, however flawed, left us with a glimmer of hope and more importantly, a target… you and other impotent critics leave the reader with nothing but apathy or frustration. I see no meaningful distinction between you and any CNN anchor or counterintelligence operative. And you provide no original information, this blog post is about 12 hours and about 30 news agencies too late to “break” this story, so your only apparent goal is to encourage inaction.

    Bad spook is bad at job.

    • Tarzie says:

      Ah, I’m sorry for pissing on your hope. It’s important to have hope. It doesn’t do shit, but I’ve never been against drugs myself. Adults who act like children however…

      If people come away from my posts with apathy and frustration, that’s not my fault. You could see these posts as wake up calls to people to stop wasting their time with these infotainment spectacles that as this post shows, lie by omission. Perhaps they should sign up with Black Lives Matter, or another movement that’s not a succession of lies.

      I never purported to be breaking news. This is a blog. Dipshit.

      “Bad Spook” Projecting maybe? Or are you stupid enough to believe that there is even one person in the Intelligence Community who feels threatened by this nonsense? Two years and one bill, which hasn’t even passed yet and which some people say makes things worse, is the only legislative reform to come out of it.

      But keep hoping…

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      “There is a fundamental difference between what you do and what people like Snowden/Manning/Schwartz do…” – is the difference that Snowden blatantly lied about meticulously reviewing every document he leaked, in an effort to portray himself favorably at the expense of Manning, and continued to do so for months? This blog scooped John Oliver by almost a year on calling bullshit on that.

      Ah, but that wasn’t the answer you were hoping for. Shucks.

      • Tarzie says:

        I guess I do have my journalistic moments.

        The “just a blog” thing is so obnoxious, from a crew that is always cheering about the obsolescence of old media and who worship a dude who, prior to Snowden, was a blogger, riffing on current news, and excoriating hacks like the one he became.

    • Galaxy 22 says:

      This is a completely distorted reading of Tarzie’s post.

      First, Tarzie provided multiple targets for critique, including not just the NSA, but also the FBI, CIA, local agencies and corporations. He provides us with a ‘target’ every bit as much as the Snowden/Greenwald crew, if not more so.

      But more importantly, Tarzie is providing us with a sense of hope which is more transformative and systematic than the hope of someone who simply wants to gloat over passing some weak legislation that changes very little in terms of institutional structures and spying on Americans. Understood correctly, one should come away from his post not with apathy or frustration but rather with a deeper understanding of the institutional context in which surveillance is occurring.

      Tarzie’s theoretical insights are valid, but your distorted, self-serving misreading of his post is not.

      • Goldfish Training Institute says:

        one should come away from his post not with apathy or frustration but rather with a deeper understanding of the institutional context in which surveillance is occurring.

        Right, this is also a basic principle in organizing. You generalize out from the specific issue. You use the specific demand or action to help people understand that it’s not just I/P, fracking, cop brutality, deportations, whatever, but it’s part of the larger structurally flawed system. Trust me, when people have that a-ha moment, the moment they realize it’s not just this protest or that issue – it’s transformative. It’s life changing for a lot of folks. And in organizing, it’s the moment for many people when they commit to mass participation.

        You don’t say “NSA bad – fix it” and then you’re done. Talk about a reactionary dead end. If that doesn’t cause apathy, I don’t know what will. That’s your CNN or your counterintel op. Dead-ending the specific so its a big circle jerk and does nothing for growing a movement.

        That’s why this blog is useful – you get an analysis of the specific and how it relates to the universal. That in turn is how you build or further the class struggle, by helping people understand these links.

        So on the NSA issue, it wasn’t Greenwald doing the heavy lifting, it was Tarzie (and other anti-cap writers). They did their job. Greenwald didn’t. (Or he did do his job, but it was in service to the imperialists.) When awareness is first raised (“documents about widespread spying released by leaker” or whatever headline), it’s the job of leftist writers to analyze the information and help us understand how this fits into the larger picture. When did Greenwald ever do that? All he did was sign movie and book deals. In all of that stuff they posted about this document and that computer spy software and this group gets spied on and that group didn’t, was there EVER a deeper analysis of, well, anything other than “frick and frack are doing this, what an outrage.”

        Fuck him and Snowden and the reactionary horse they rode in on. I’ll take the (actual) leftist writers. They know what they’re doing, just let them do it.

    • Rob says:

      I’m a reader of this blog and I’ve never come away frustrated or with apathy. If you want to troll please do it without including me. You must think a lot of yourself to be able to speak for everyone else. Also, you seem to be one of those people that are always looking for heroes. There aren’t any heroes, why not try thinking for yourself instead, it might be useful. Small children have heroes which is understandable, adults don’t need them, so where does that leave you?

    • RUKidding says:

      You lost me when you indicate that what Snowden did is equivalent to what Manning and Schwartz did.

    • Steam Grain says:

      Oh, my. I’ve never commented here before, but now I feel I must.

      As Tarzie once said in a reply (under FAQ, accessed via the About page):

      ‘…I feel I have met you, and been bored by you, a thousand times already….Got no time for one more condescending liberal bore and his fact-free crackpot realism.’

      Let me be clear. It is not this blog that has ever caused me to feel frustrated or apathetic.

      Rather, it is this very combination of misdirection and condescension–so well exemplified by the comment above–that, by constantly working to block the emergence of an effective resistance to fascism, and to isolate as ‘divisive’ any who try to call attention to this routine, has caused me to feel frustration and, more than apathy, despair.

      It was while I was in such a state of frustration that, one day in April 2014, I was at my keyboard and started banging out searches like, ‘fake left,’ ‘fake alternative media’ (looking for critics of same). And at some point, I found this blog. On the upper right part of the screen, I saw the phrase, ‘O Rancid Sector of the extreme left…,’ and immediately recognized it as coming from an execrable article–so typical of this mindset–by Rebecca Solnit that I’d endured reading in the fall of 2012. I read some of the blog posts, the About page, the FAQ. And I’ve been coming back ever since. At last!, a place where people not only recognize such tendencies on the left (gatekeeping, celebrity worship, ‘kissing up and kicking down,’ all serving the overall function of policing discourse on the left), but who appreciate how damaging they’ve been. Which also helped me to understand how much these had been contributing to the sense of frustration and hopelessness in me.

      So, yes!; this blog does give me hope: Hope that we don’t have to acquiesce to such stratagems, but can call attention to them, increase awareness, and fight back.

  2. AmishRakeFight says:

    I can’t wait for the AP tribute statue to suddenly appear in my local park.

    Joking aside, if one considers the history of the FBI’s operations over the past century, I think it would follow that one should be a hell of a lot more concerned about bulk FBI surveillance than bulk NSA surveillance, particularly one who identifies with leftist politics.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yep. Plus local police. That’s the 800 pound elephant.

    • Bitman says:

      Let’s take it further, since THEY are: what we should most be concerned about is the fact that the entire social world is being turned into a social media-style ‘black box’ platform. Private companies, local police forces, and federal agencies are all hard at work to create and collect new kinds of digital information of every sort about every one of us (you can’t protect yourself from it), and then turning the digital information into a commodity for sale or distribution.

      Social media companies (fuck them) at least go through the motions of having users sign a EULA of some form. In the social world, you may literally have no idea what sorts of information are being collected about you, nor any means for finding out. If the permission to surveil you and collect digital info on you in some is the subject of a classified FISA court decision, tough shit, you’re out of luck. Further, companies (like Vigilant Solutions) who provide license plate data to law enforcement make those agencies agree to terms of service agreement that forbid disclosure to media outlets about the agreement:

      Vigilant requires that its licensees—law enforcement agencies—not talk publicly about its LPR database. According to the 2014 edition of its terms and conditions: “This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS.”


      Our lives are being used to generate digital traces, control over which every one of us is being separated from. And all for the sake of profit and further domination. No escape.

  3. Mallam says:

    Watching that reactionary shitheel Rand Paul gloat about and fund raise from how he stopped mass surveillance is probably the most insufferable aspect of this for me. If Rand Paul didn’t exist — or alternatively, if he did nothing — it would have “expired” on its own because Mitch McConnell thought he could bring the whole thing up at the last minute and the rest of the Senate would cave. That didn’t happen. Rand Paul changed nothing, none of that dynamic. And now we’ll get a “reform” bill that could make things worse to “thank” for his efforts? As Church demonstrated decades ago (and what should have been explicit by definition), the “law” is irrelevant for what are essentially “lawless” institutions (and of course the Catch-22 there is that they are “lawless” explicitly by their statutory birth).

    There can be no “reform” just like we cannot “reform” the local police. I say that as someone who is sympathetic to liberal reforms that help the poor and working class such as Medicaid expansion even though we need free public health clinics and this sector also needs to be torn down. In this arena (surveillance, law enforcement), there is no “reform”. There is only abolition.

    • Tarzie says:

      I have trouble saying which of these frauds is the worst but Paul is up there. As I just wrote in my update, he’s called for beefing up the FBI with additional officers. Frauds from top to bottom.

      I agree about abolition, but won’t happen until capitalism goes with it.

      • Mallam says:

        Ha! I commented before your update, but it seems we were thinking along the same lines.

        True enough about capitalism. What are police to do except protect private property? Some version of “police” exists in my ideal world, but of course then they’re not really police as we have always come to know them.

        My favorite comment about the Pauls for those who are naive enough or not smart enough to discern their politics:

        The Pauls are consistent even if their fanboys can’t figure out what the Pauls’ governance orientation means in the real world. In plain English:

        At the national level, government is to operate a military to protect US business interests and a SCOTUS to protect wealth.

        At the state level, government is to operate prisons.

        At the local level, government is to protect real estate private property rights and operate law enforcement to insure no infringement on such property.

        Otherwise, “the people” are on their own to do as they please.

        Buy PaulBucks!

    • Goldfish Training Institute says:

      Liberal reforms are used to buy off the working class, keep them from radicalizing. It’s why a lot of anti-caps believe the Democrat party is more dangerous than the Republican. It’s also another reason not to end the fight on any specific demands and actions, but to generalize out to the capitalist system as a whole. The Fight for 15 action comes to mind. It’s great to protest for a higher minimum wage but understand it needs to be grounded in an overall anti-capitalist framework.

      • Mallam says:

        I don’t disagree with that grounding in such a framework, and I understand the argument against such reforms…I just don’t agree with them. I suppose part of it is the fact that even though I’m anti-cap, I’ve still benefited greatly from the situation we have and I’ve never personally been on the shit end of the capitalist stick when it comes to, say, requiring health care. And I feel really uncomfortable shouting from my arm chair of gold-plated insurance with my middle class job that these reforms aren’t worth doing when the poor need care right now.

        Plus, as you say below, it’s either leftism or fascism. And I can’t say I know how to fully channel the public’s view towards the former when it seems that the masses always love them the latter (especially if we look to certain parts of Europe right now).

      • jason says:

        Mallam, the $15/hr min wage in L.A. county set to go into effect by stages till 2020 doesn’t even cover the CURRENT avg cost of rent in LAC. The value of $15/hr is relative to other elements in the system, all owned by someone else. In LAC et al, when the wage hike goes thru, the owners will just do what they are doing now: jack up rents accordingly.
        Smashing the current system of ownership is the only way forward, which brings us back to the issue of surveillance and its function as an attempt at population control.

      • Mallam says:

        Did I mention the $15/hr issue? No. I’m also aware of the bill which passed — with overwhelming majority, meaning there is ample space for demands to be made and continue to be made that it go into effect immediately — is wholly inadequate. Everything will always be inadequate. Smashing the system will likely bring in more inadequacy. Which isn’t an argument against doing so, but it’s not convincing to me.

        I said it before: I know and understand the arguments. I don’t agree with them. I have no desire to continue this conversation going forward, as a. it will likely lead nowhere, and b. it is somewhat derailing to Tarzie’s excellent post at the top

  4. A quibble: “…federalizing of cops since 9/11 in large cities…” If by ‘large’ cities you mean, for example, Abilene Kansas (population ~7,000) that can muster up one of those armored tank-like vehicles with the giant hammer on the front that they use to drive into buildings. Unclear whether they knock first or not.

  5. jason says:

    Cia Dir. John Brennan declared, “I think terrorist elements have watched very carefully what has happened here in the United States, whether or not it’s disclosures of classified information or whether it’s changes in the law and policies. They are looking for the seams to operate within.” Oh no! The terrorists are watching CSPAN! those monsters! (note the Snowden cred offered here.)

    Meanwhile, back on the FBI-surveilled planet fucking earth…boys (and a few gals) playing Robert’s Rules of Order for the TV…Or are they telling me Congress just fired thousands of spooks (who would just land softly at Verizon, Google, etc.)? no? they voted to send the NSA/etc./etc/etc. a memo on procedures? got it.

    • RUKidding says:

      For better or worse, I haven’t been paying all that much attention to whatever legislation gets passed in this regard. US Congress could pass something in very simple, easy to understand language that essentially says: “From now on, NO spying of any kind ever under any circumstances on any US citizen no matter what. Otherwise, huge criminal charges for those who break this law.”

      And so what? Ya gotta know that the alphabets will continue to spy and collect data and do whatever it is they do… or their private corporation counterparts/partners in crime will do it. Like any “law” passed by the US Congress has any meaning in terms of what these outlaw “agencies” do?? Really? Really??!!!

      Laws are to be stringent for the proles, not for the mega-wealthy, and most certainly not for the criminal gangs running drugs, guns, humans, kids and collecting “data” everywhere all the time. Think we can “control” it now??? Yeah, pull the other one.

      • jason says:

        i appreciate other people wading thru details i can’t. given the massive systemic inertia, Congress will vote this stuff down when they vote down the Pentagon. They spy on The Enemy. ergo the enemy is……everyone….

  6. wendyedavis says:

    Yes on all counts. But I’d add the modern day equivalents to the Pinkerton agencies of yore that serve the Wall Street Banks and other Very Important™ Corporations.

    But mainly I waned to bring this Wikileaks tweet from a few days ago:
    How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA http://www.thenation.com/article/208481/how-private-contractors-have-created-shadow-nsa … See: https://icwatch.wikileaks.org

    From the Nation piece:

    “To penetrate this shield, there’s a great need for more reporting and whistleblowing about the pernicious role of contractors in national security. Unfortunately, only a few journalists have explored the world of privatized spying. And strangely, virtually none of the documents leaked by Edward Snowden have focused on the corporate elephant that so clearly dominates the surveillance jungle. As far as I’ve been able to track, only one or two of the Snowden documents actually mention contractors.

    One was released in 2014 as part of a Der Spiegel story on the NSA’s extensive collaboration with the German intelligence agency BND. The 2005 document identified an NSA code name as the “coverterm [sic] representing NSA’s contract with Computer Services Corporation (CSC) for mission support. All publicly available information regarding work on this contract…will be sanitized so that no association with NSA will be made.” This document has yet to be mentioned by either the Intercept or The Washington Post, the largest recipients of the Snowden trove.”

    Now the author does go on to say that according to Thomas Drake, Snowden wouldn’t have had access to the contracts, fwiw.

    • interestingblogger says:

      You make a valid point. There is surveillance in the corporate sector of course which people seem to forget about magically. The writer of that piece, Tim Shorrock, has been critical of Snowden and Greenwald from what I know… So thanks for sharing that.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    Enjoyed this post. Zero quibbles at the moment.

  8. Thank you for this site/blog whatever it’s called, Mr. Tarzie. I really appreciate your alertness and the insights you share…just wanted to tell you that. And…I love your sense of humor.
    Thanks again….especially for the Snowden-Greenwald-Intercept writings. Big hugs…

  9. RUKidding says:

    File under “Isn’t that special?”

    Of course, those crazy Norwegians also gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Do ya think the Norwegians are engaging in the Norwegian version of Orwell speak?

  10. cripes@yahoo.com says:

    Ok, I have my issues with Snowden and especially Greenwald, but Snowden did purloin a bunch of pretty important intel, which only confirmed what I suspected, but many others didn’t know at all, to the point of undeniability. It was a real contribution.
    He risked career, home and freedom, and escaped by the skin of his teeth to exile in Moscow. Nothing to sneeze at.

    The USA Freedom Act is a POS.

    On the other hand, I’m working on a revolving sign for the yard.
    One side says “Chelsea Manning = Hero”
    The other says “Barack Obama = Zero”

    • Tarzie says:

      Do you honestly think I haven’t considered Snowden from every angle before you came along?

      Congrats on your sign. Sorta makes my point that the whistleblowing cult is the successor to the obama cult. Dead ends both. Whistleblowing cult is probably the sillier of the two.

      • Jeffrey says:

        If you have ten people in a room, somewhere between 9 and 10 of them usually think they are the smartest person in the room. (in my experience)

      • Tarzie says:

        That’s more my experience on the internet than irl.

      • Jeffrey says:

        People hide it better ‘irl’.

      • cripes@yahoo.com says:

        Whistle-blower cults has nothing to do with what I said.

        Chelsea Manning acted on a principle that state crimes should be revealed to the world, and is paying dearly for that principle. I don’t know about you, but I call it courage. Call it ineffective or whatever, but she had balls. If dirt-bags opportunist attach themselves like leeches for self-promotion, then have at them. Barack Obama never had a principle except self-promotion and elite-worship that he gave a fart about. Hence my joke.

        We need whistle-blowers just as we need union organizers or investigative journalists or worker co-ops or bloggers.

        Whistle-blowers play a vital role in de-legitimatizing the State/Corporate system. That’s why the state drops a brutal hammer on them. The Obama regime, more than any presidency, has pursued them under espionage laws, so they’re scared of them. They may even seek to manage the scandal under the guise of Pierre Omidyar. Again, have at ’em.

        I would venture to say that the degree of state repression brought against a target is a fair measure of their threat to the state.

        You really think that’s not significant?

      • Tarzie says:

        We need whistle-blowers just as we need union organizers or investigative journalists or worker co-ops or bloggers.

        I don’t agree, though I’m with you on union organizers and worker co-ops.

        In the absence of a movement behind them, whistleblowers are just celebrity martyrs and worse depending on how much the state wants to exploit them once they’re in custody. I don’t disparage Manning — she is brave and well-meaning — but as a practice I don’t think whistleblowing is very useful, even if the state does find it threatening, though I think their real fear is hacking.

        Are you not at all concerned that all dissenting politics are melting into this neoliberal cargo cult of investigative journalism and whistleblowing? This isn’t a movement. It’s a substitute. A religion, in a way. Where’s it leading? Nowhere. Which more and more seems like the point.

        Most people don’t trust the government already. Congress’ approval rating hovers around 11%. Only 13% of USians say they trust the government. Thirty or forty per cent thought 9/11 was an inside job. It doesn’t get more skeptical and disffected than believing your government is doing enormous false flags that kill thousands of people. This idea that we’ll reach some kind of critical mass of disclosures, and then…revolution? is pure fantasy. It’s childish and dumb. It’s elections for smarter rubes.

      • Sammee says:

        What, you deny the almighty, holy power of the Internet and its potential for electronic revolution?!? You bourgieous fool, look at all the wonderful blows against the dominant power structure it has ushered in, like, um, Chanology and Anonymous! And Gaamergate! And social network users complaining about kiddy cartoons and dishing out peoples details for petty reasons relating to some identity politics, or imageboards where they do the same but from the other end of the political spectrum? My, the elites are quaking in their boots, I can tell ya!

  11. shelley says:

    I wouldn’t agree that your goal is to encourage inaction. What a weird first commenter, saying you are all about inaction and then making a big deal of precedent setting activists whose actions have not achieved any reform, only taken away hope.
    I was just wondering what Mr/Mrs Disinfectant meant by saying Schwartz, Manning and Snowden were “flawed”.

  12. interestingblogger says:

    This post is spot on. When I was following the celebration around the expiration of the one “Patriot” Act provision, Section 215, on twitter, some in The Intercept and elsewhere claimed this is a victory against the surveillance apparatus/security state. That doesn’t make sense because the Orwellian-named USA Freedom Act continues NSA surveillance under the guise of reform.

    I agree with Tarzie that just focusing on the NSA’S role is limiting. As I see it, if there is only focus on the NSA, the FBI, CIA, and DEA are off the hook. When has the director of the FBI come to Congress to be asked about surveillance? Not since the 1970s when the Church and Pike Committees had reports about NSA, CIA and FBI surveillance… I also feel the same way as Tarzie that Rand Paul’s action against the “Patriot” Act is a spectacle. I know for sure that Rand Paul is not only using his “opposition” to NSA spying as an issue to run on, but there was fundraising for his campaign during his filibuster.

    Getting back to the focus on the NSA, Tarzie rightly points out that the surveillance apparatus includes numerous federal agencies (ex: NSA, FBI, CIA, USPS, DEA), police departments and private companies (ex: Google, Facebook, and govt. shell companies). I was just about to write about this as well, but you beat me to it. When I’m finished, I’ll send you a link…

    That’s all I have to say for now.

    • Jeffrey says:

      I sympathize with the point being made over and over here that these are not really victories. That being said, I think a lot of people were justifiably scared seeing how the security state was operating in the last ten to fifteen years, and so it is more a question of stopping the state from going any further at this point than pushing it back.

      • Tarzie says:


        I think that “question” will be settled by the state.

      • interestingblogger says:

        Really? Getting one part of the Patriot Act to expire is not a victory. A victory would be a stab at the heart of the surveillance apparatus, a destruction of its core. Perhaps people were scared, but they were scared BEFORE then as well. This comment is absurd.

      • Tarzie says:

        Warning: Jeffrey is, at heart, a Glennbot troll. When he’s in that mode, don’t feed.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I believe it’s called a- “second derivative”? Rather highbrow stuff but you can apply to some schools, take some classes, and maybe one day…

      • Tarzie says:

        yeah, you intimidate the hell outta me.

      • interestingblogger says:

        Yeah, it seems so.

      • Jeffrey says:

        Thought bubble: What is it about telling the truth that makes people cringe, scream, and then run away?
        (Asking for a friend.)

      • interestingblogger says:

        Just go away.

      • Jeffrey says:

        I will comply with your directive!

      • interestingblogger says:

        I guess. Oh well.

      • Tarzie says:

        I was premature when I told you that wasn’t necessary. Hadnt seen the rest of his bullshit. Your instincts were good.

      • interestingblogger says:

        Well, thanks. I’m in a sorta back and forth elsewhere on wordpress of someone who thinks that voting for the “lesser evil” (Democrats) is ok… Oh boy.

      • Tarzie says:

        it’s the same thing.

      • interestingblogger says:

        I can’t reply to your other comments for some reason, but I’m not a troll. I dislike Greenwald as much as you do. Unless you are talking to the actual troll, Jeffrey… I just wanted to make that clear.

      • Tarzie says:

        It’s wordpress’s shitty comment threading. It was in reply to Jeffrey’s “you can’t handle the truth” bullshit.

      • interestingblogger says:

        Oh, ok. Yeah, the comment threading is pretty annoying. I can reply to some of your comments but not others. Its really just weird.

      • Tarzie says:

        what is it about trolls that makes them think that when they hijack discussions to talk in banalities that we’ve all heard a million times and they’re assholes about it on top, that people who want them to go away are intimidated or afraid of them?

        dude, you obviously respect Greenwald, so do you make no inferences from my willingness to engage with him over and over in public settings? I am not afraid of you. I think you’re a troll, a boring one, who tries to restore every conversation to your banal faith in celebrities and incrementalism. Trust me, that’s why I want to you leave. Say something interesting under another name and I’m yours. Honest. You really don’t have to agree with me. You have to be something other than a litany of banal derailments.

      • Tarzie says:

        i do love a grandiose troll or is that redundant?

  13. Jeffrey says:

    If you want to stop a policy, I don’t see why it’s absurd to say slowing it down is a partial victory, so long as you follow it up with other things. Not really appreciating all the name calling (not exactly a counter argument is it?) but whatever. “Do you” as they say.

    • Tarzie says:

      The point you seem to be missing, you preening dumbass, is that it’s not slowing down. So you’re talking glennbot shit for glennbot reasons.

      So fuck off and don’t come back this time.

    • Tarzie says:

      No one is obliged to disprove an unknown that you state as fact.

      Apply to some schools, take some classes…

    • Goldfish Training Institute says:

      I don’t see why it’s absurd to say slowing it down is a partial victory, so long as you follow it up with other things

      They didn’t pass the bill and make the changes to benefit us. The ruling class never does anything that’s not in their material and political interests. Ever. So it “slows down” nothing. Who knows why they did it – factional fights, political grandstanding, inter-imperial infighting, corporate demands, whatever. Who knows, who cares. But they didn’t do it because they were afraid we’d burn the whole mother to the ground. There was no pressure on them to do shit except internally. They have their reasons.

      So what’s “radical” Greenwald’s next project? Now that his “resistance movement to NSA power” is completed, I mean. Wow what a revolutionary. Give the man an AK47.

  14. diane says:

    I would only nitpick that it is not just the US enities outside of the NSA: CIA, the FBI, the DEA, local police and the companies they work. It is those wealthy enough to escape a current hot spot of blood letting, such as the Cayman Islands, while thoroughly unleashing it on countless billions.

    I believe historic Urban Shield posts (if one were able to recover all of them) provide a perfect example of such. I.E.: Israel and Belgium somehow had something to do with training local local police officers to be snipers in those many counties connected with or neighboring Silicon Valley, California.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah the training of cops by Israelis and others is an interesting angle and certainly germane.

      • diane says:

        The Belgium involvement was very telling, to my mind (and, If I’m not mistaken, there was also at least one Middle Eastern Country (outside of Israel) noted). Wish I could remember what year Belgium was noted on the Urban Shield site as a supporter, along with Israel (2010, 2011?), unfortunately my computer at that time has since died.

    • diane says:

      and “this” when there have not even been any, even slightly, significant protest movements, yet, in most of those “Bay Area” counties, with the exception of the cities of Oakland and San Francisco. None the less, that Urban Shield site http://www.urbanshield.org/index.php/bay-area-urban-area-security-initiative portrays nothing but enemies living in Silicon Valley!

      (Oh, and uuugh, do check out Anne Kronenberg of that, joined at the hip with Urban Shield, Bay Area UASI Approval Authority (I am so ashamed at my prior admiration for that DemoRat Party.)

      • diane says:

        I should have qualified that those Silicon Valley enemy residents, held under that little red dot laser beam (the majority of those residents), are that vast majority not in the Upper, Upper Management of the handful of tech oligarchies: Google, Apple, Face Book, Linked In, Tesla, Twitter, Uber, etcetera.

  15. Goldfish Training Institute says:

    Yeah, the comment threading is pretty annoying. I can reply to some of your comments but not others. Its really just weird.

    It takes getting used to. I usually try to remember to find the first “Reply” above the comment I’m trying to respond to. I’m lucky if my comments end up on this blog, though. LOL. I once responded to a comment here by typing it in Word first, then posting it, but I ended up posting it on a sewing blog that I had open in my tabs. I was put on “restricted” status and lost my posting privileges. Guess the seamstresses didn’t agree with me about the revolution. Hey sewing machines for all!

    • Tarzie says:

      I was put on “restricted” status and lost my posting privileges.

      Ha ha!

    • diane says:

      Oh fuck, that reminds me of an “Art Festival” I checked out in Fremont, California in the early 2000’s hoping to find political satire admist the all day long affair of visiting numerous homes and apartments of “artists”, I ended up a bit nervous repeatedly asking if there were any social commentary pieces … while we were bombimg the fuck out of Iraq.

      • diane says:

        (I had intended the word “bombing,” but maybe “bombimg” (non stop bomb imaging as a horrid and venal threat) is apropos also.)

  16. cripes@yahoo.com says:


    “In the absence of a movement behind them, whistleblowers are just celebrity martyrs and worse depending on how much the state wants to exploit them once they’re in custody. I don’t disparage Manning — she is brave and well-meaning — but as a practice I don’t think whistleblowing is very useful, even if the state does find it threatening, though I think their real fear is hacking. ”

    I’m basically with you here and the substance of the post this is cut from, and please allow that i am not a regular privy to the nuances of past arguments and how they unfold into the current threads.

    Anyway, Manning worked with what she had, basically alone, convinced it was the necessary thing to do, consequences be damned. You work with what you’ve got. We could use a little more of that. Altruism.
    Nietzsche would probably disagree.

    The metastatic ever adaptable profit driven co-opted state has shown since at at least the 1960’s a prodigious capacity to swallow and regurgitate almost all (domestic) rebellion into capitalist puke.
    I won’t argue that. Still, a single spark and all, with a little well-prepared tinder, and a mighty wind, who knows?

    You’re pretty shrill.

    All my friends tell me that.

    • Tarzie says:

      Like I said, I’m not disparaging Manning, so she needs no defense. But I am also not obliged to make more of her martyrdom than I see. I’m all for altruism, but I don’t think we need more idealistic young people martyring themselves in the same way. Like you say, rebellion gets swallowed and regurgitated into capitalist puke, and whistleblowers and investigative journalists are no different.

      Still, a single spark and all, with a little well-prepared tinder, and a mighty wind, who knows?

      I’ll assume that by “well-prepared tinder and a mighty wind” you mean movements that are necessary for this shit to make any difference. My statement was about whistleblowing without the wind and sparks.

      • babaganusz says:

        but I don’t think we need more idealistic young people martyring themselves in the same way

        where would the White Rose fit on that spectrum? (not that i have any idea what press coverage they got anywhere on the planet)

    • diane says:

      You’re pretty shrill.

      All my friends tell me that.

      Do you think Tarzie is shrill? It’s not at all clear; it’s sounding like you only came upon that opinion when your ‘friends’ made that call. Consequently, I’m wondering as to what those same ‘friends’ call you, when you’re the one at odds with one or more of them? Do you believe that they are always correct, and you are always wrong?

      • Tarzie says:

        it’s ok Diane. That adjective means nothing to me.

      • cripes@yahoo.com says:


        My friends don’t read Rancid, if they do they haven’t mentioned it.
        Maybe I should have written: my friends think I’m shrill, too.
        That happens when I casually mention we’re slaves on a plantation.
        Nice to meet you, too.

  17. jason says:

    right on cue, Snowden lands on the op-ed page of the NYT. “With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear.”

    • Tarzie says:

      That’s awful. “pioneering companies like Apple”

      • Goldfish Training Institute says:

        Wow, it just reads like a smarmy reactionary propaganda piece for bourgeois power. “A politics that turns away from reaction and fear?” Invoking the Bill of Rights? He’s such a hack.

      • jason says:

        yes, several major feints in that piece, head & pump fakes. maybe congress can one day pass a law against Apple & co’s spying on everything too?

        “Attention shoppers! We know you’re concerned about surveillance. Have we got a new spectacular product for you! Protect your safety AND your privacy.”

        what has this quasi-omniscience produced in those with access to all this information? this is not the worst thing by any stretch but still, a harvest of puerile court(room) melodramas with hosts of courtiers applauding & cheering the performance.

  18. Warren Celli says:

    Yes, the revelation of hypocrisy has been done to death. We all know the system is immorally evil… it is well past time for discussing remedial measures…

    “With a scam hijacked government, ‘rule of law’, and controlled media, all you have left is the court of public opinion — its time to use it more wisely!

    Stop bouncing your daily commentary off of the intentionally divisive fake system pap and stop directing your good ideas to the foxes; instead forge new ground by consolidating media and staying focused on and revealing the upper level causative dynamics and their rationales;

    • The ever spreading disease of Xtrevilism
    • Use of the elite sociopathic Noble Lie
    • Use of the secessionist and traitorous corporate structure
    • Control of media to negatively shape culture through propaganda
    • Control of the global money supply through the FED and its collusion with other central banks
    • The bogus “lies of omission” electoral process
    • The ever increasing domestic surveillance
    • The growing police state tactics against peaceful protesters
    • Creating incessant fear mongering and intentional divisiveness
    • The ever growing hollywood Xtrevilwood; evil, wealth, violence, and cop adoring industry
    • etc.

    We the masses are many; they, the Xtrevilist rich sociopaths, are few — very few!”

    More here…


    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  19. This is the key, a phrase used at the conclusion of the post;

    ” in any meaningful sense”

    TZ cares about meaning, not self promotional stunts and meaningless gestures, and that makes all the inference in interpretation.

    I’ve been fighting this same battle in another realm – it is sickening unto death.

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