Comments on: NSA as ‘Big Brother’? Not even close Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: SpiderMarlowe Wed, 03 Jul 2013 16:06:53 +0000 What Ms. Khrushcheva seems to forget is that the United States has a constitution that guarantees freedoms — of privacy, of speech, and of thought.

When the NSA, CIA, DIA, and other three-letter agencies of the federal government turn their listening devices back on the nation they serve, when they collect, store and analyze this data under the philosophy of “guilty until proved innocent,” when they suspend habeas courpus and hold American and other citizens in secret places away from the light of justice — they violate basic American principles guaranteed by our constitution.

Perhaps Ms. Khrushcheva is happy to have the impression of free speech — you are right, there is no “click” on the line tonight — but if a government suspends the Bill of Rights at its own convenience, what guarantees do you have that the black mariah will not show up some other night?

There is no Hitler, no Stalin, and therefore, no tension between political poles. Today, we have one superpower with capabilities that Orwell may not have imagined. Which is worse?

Yesterday, this country, with its vast influence, downed and detained the official airplane of the president of Bolivia. Had another country done the same to Air Force One, can you imagine the military repercussions?

Yes, the United States today is preferable to the USSR of which you speak, but are we moving away from or toward that model of totalitarian oppression?

By: jimst Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:22:55 +0000 Whatever.

It’s nice to be the great ganddaughter of a former Soviet Premier. That way you can grow up in a royal family and then move to the US, capitalize on your fame, become part of the US ruling class and tell everyone how great it is to be surveilled by the NSA.

By: Decatur Wed, 03 Jul 2013 00:38:10 +0000 There are some real differences as the author points out, that we harm ourselves by ignoring. Our leaders are elected openly and peacefully like clockwork, no Putin/Medvedev shuffling or choreographed, predestined 5-year Party Congresses. Due process catches up with wrongdoers up to highest levels here, compared to unsolved murders and disappearances.

Assange and Snowden show that all is not utopia in the West, but the West is still the bright light of due process, freedom and opportunity for most of the world, a lineage that took a couple of thousand years, with mistakes along the way, to arrive at what only a minority of the world’s population enjoys today.

We could do better than NSA, etc., yes, but we already do much better than the handful of single-party totalitarian countries (where a privileged few rule over about 2 billion total people) that are trying to capitalize on Snowden to use him as a ‘snow job’ to cover their own far more pervasive, intrusive, deadly and demoralizing internal attacks on freedom, privacy, rule of law, and representation.

The big issue is the damage from Snowden as a distraction from China, and how the $200+ billion cost to west of industrial espionage is about equal to imports from the west; and Russia; both propping up the most repressive dictators world wide, both with communism having arrived at a far more naked and corrupt grab of power money and influence than the worst “one percent / wall street / watergate” excesses that are prosecuted here.

I agree things are not perfect in the west, but keep some perspective, yes some motes in our eye could be flushed out – but they are still motes, not logs.

By: WoBuYaoTweet Tue, 02 Jul 2013 21:11:14 +0000 The fact that people KNEW about Soviet or Stasi monitoring is one key glaring difference. You KNEW to keep your mouth shut, to frame your words, thoughts & deeds in a particular way. You didn’t share your real thoughts, and when you did, the KGB reminded you not to.

Do you remember the END of 1984? It’s when Winston, the main character, finally gives in & stops caring that Big Brother is watching & monitoring his thoughts. He decides he loves Big Brother, and in that very moment they put a bullet in his brain in the middle of a public place, and nobody around dares to care or ask ‘why?’.

What makes the NSA revelations more frightening is that Americans assume a (clearly incorrect) expectation of freedom, of privacy, of free speech, free thought, etc. We grow up being told to speak our minds, because it’s our Constitutional right!

The result? The NSA, without consent, warrants, transparency, oversight, or expiration of the data, are secretly collecting something the Nazis, Soviets, and Orwell’s Big Brother never had: totally ACCURATE and TRUTHFUL representations of society. The data they (illegally) collect on most Americans isn’t peppered with knowing winks & propaganda catch phrases – it’s real. And they collect it on such a massive scale the measurements for it hadn’t been invented in 1982.

Even without active realtime monitoring, they can more quickly, more accurately, and more thoroughly identify the personal details, habits, relationships, thoughts, fears, patterns & exploitable weaknesses of anybody they choose. The coverage is far more pervasive, complete & advanced than ANY system used by any previous totalitarian regime. Your “Not even close” is facing the wrong direction.

The fact that we don’t currently have a strong-man authoritarian leader or actively oppressive government is meaningless. Those things are no longer necessary for control. We love our country & trust it, and where is Afghanistan again? West Eurasia?

IF the day ever does come when factions of US gov’t decide to more actively use these tools against Americans, they will already know everything they need to know about every single person in the country. You don’t get more totalitarian than that.

By: Benny27 Tue, 02 Jul 2013 16:53:13 +0000 We are NOT “lucky” to live in an open society, it is enshrined in our constitution, and has been fought over by activists and citizens alike in our country for centuries. It is no accident, but the product of an informed citizenry.

What Snowden referred to our system as, was not 1984, (that was implied by others): he said that our system is “turn-key totalitarianism” and we now know that it is. Not yet, but the systems are in place, all a would-be supreme ruler has to do it make a small change to the syst5em to begin using this massive apparatus against our own people. All this data tells a lot more about you than people think: including your political beliefs.

I am disgusted that as a former soviet citizen, you would defend a move in the slide toward a police state for being “not bad enough to worry about” Stalin didn’t show up until the groundwork had been laid, of course.

By: AZreb Tue, 02 Jul 2013 12:59:46 +0000 Give the US government some more time, Ms. K, and it will surpass “1984”. After all, we now have the extended and expanded Patriot Act, NDAA, drones and so much more than was dreamed of in the past.

By: VinnieTheSnake Mon, 01 Jul 2013 17:34:57 +0000 In the 1980s there was no such thing as a ‘Free Speech Zone’ in the US.

By: jorge62 Mon, 01 Jul 2013 04:01:36 +0000 What worries me is the new data center the US is opening that can hold unbelievable amounts of data on everyone in the country. This president used data mining techniques to help him win the last election besides the many lies. Can you imagine what can be done using these techniques when you have PETA amounts of data. It’s scary.

By: wilhelm Sun, 30 Jun 2013 18:07:44 +0000 nothing is more fatuous that a right-wing ideologue whose frame of reference is the old USSR.

there are now mountains of documentary evidence that the US government performs exactly the same types of activities that it has decried as ‘authoritarian’ and ‘totalitarian’ acts by other states. the only distinction is which empire is doing the dirt, and who are the people being shat upon.

if you are concerned about the rights of people globally, the answer to the question is clear.

By: AnonymousHell Sun, 30 Jun 2013 10:06:10 +0000 The problem is that the United States is heading downward. While China and Russia are becoming more interested in economic prowess, the United States is becoming obsessed with control. Recent Supreme Court precedent just two weeks ago eliminated the famous right to remain silent and now people have to quote specific language–language that they probably don’t know. The percentage of criminal appeals being granted went from about 28% in the 1970s and 1980s to about 4 percent today (meaning the checks and balances are leaving). We are publicly making threats and asking other countries to deny Snowden due process and summarily expel him in contravention of treaties that we entered into such as the refugee convention. It’s just no the same ‘old USA anymore.