Sunday, August 18, 2013



Some smart American general, I can't recall if it was Stanley McChrystal or David Petraeus said, every drone that kills 10 "militants" creates 100 replacements.

I think that's accurate, as far as it goes, but it is basically "old world" thinking. In the new world of instant and global digital communication, the world in which secrecy and assumptions of secrecy are both equally anachronistic, each attack creates not just 10 new fighters for every one killed or injured, it creates thousands, maybe millions of new enemies.

Perhaps this obvious lesson will now be drawn by the foolish security officials who detained David Miranda because he was Guardian columnist, and Edward Snowden revelation reporter, Glenn Greenwald's partner, and gave him 9 hours of "rubber room" treatment.

These apparatchiks of the formerly secret services, the ones who identify themselves to their victims, or in this case, their victim's partner, with numbers rather than names, and their very nonymous enablers like Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, and DNI James Clapper should note, what you do is no longer secret. You can and will be held responsible by a global jury.  Think about, please.  It is well past time.

So, you may have given Miranda a hard time, and sent chills down the spine of Greenwald and his reporting partner Laura Poitras, but you have also enraged millions of once-undecideds in the ongoing war in which privacy as well as secrecy are casualties.

For Obama, the President of Faux-Transparency, this Battle of Bull Run in his war against journalism and freedom of speech further shrinks public tolerance for his performance and persona, and geometrically grows both sympathy and the audience for Greenwald and Poitras' print and video reporting.

As for OBama's crusade for East German STASI-style snitching inside America's security state, he should remember another truism of counter-terrorism: the counter-terrorists are never allowed to lose, while the terrorists need only to win once, or once in a while. Ordering everyone who works at the DOD or CIA or NSA to rat out "suspicious characters," only squeezes more secrets loose from an angry and demoralized workforce.

Few journalists will be deterred by what the Brit securi-thugs did to David Miranda, but thousands of potential visitors may divert to other places to visit and spend their money rather than support a British government which behaves so atrociously. And dozens of people who know, or investigate what Obama and Clapper call secrets will now be more motivated to make them public knowledge.



  1. "These apparatchiks of the formerly secret services, the ones who identify themselves to their victims, or in this case, their victim's partner, with numbers rather than names,"

    Shades of Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

  2. I would feel better about the fallout from the loss of secrets and privacy if I thought we had an informed electorate.

  3. A complicating aspect is that the powers that be seem rather clueless about how the modern world works.

    From: Alan Ruisberger

    "Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

    The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents."

    While this dim-witted goonishness is laughable it is also deeply disturbing.