I am not surprised at the technical possibility of the type of NSA data collection that has been revealed by Edward Snowden and the Guardian. Having done some informal research for a couple of corporate clients on spam filters in 2003, the ramifications of that study (i.e. the ability to construct Bayesian algorithms to filter out the 2/3 of text-based emails which were spam at that time) made evident the theoretical means and utility. I recall watching documentaries (i.e. PBS’s Frontline – Top Secret America – September 2011), which intimated the advent of these practices. I still thought that it was still a little into the future.
But having not kept up with the improvements in hardware capacity and capabilities, I was taken aback that the theoretical had become practical so soon. I am astonished by the political will and folly by the political elite of both of the broad political factions and their courtiers and benefactors to eviscerate the letter and spirit of the American Constitution and its Bill of Rights. This has been a slowly increasing practical reality for many generations; only accelerated in the last decade.
In a recent documentary by “For the Record”, called the “Surveillance State”, it records a statement by NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander, made at the American Enterprise Institute on July 9, 2012. In the 41st and 42nd minute of that document, he says about the Bluffdale, Utah Data Center:
“I can’t go into the details of the Utah Data Center. We don’t hold data on U.S. Citizens… One. We don’t do that. Two; when you think about just the volume of U.S. emails; just think statistically; just for one minute…think we’re talking about probably, probably you know, 30 trillion emails a year or more. Anybody read that many number of emails.”
This public official spouts deceit. If one was to do a content search on files or emails within their own computer, one would notice how quite amazingly fast that search has become over the years. One does not need to open the email to read. One merely needs to search with appropriate key word (syntax), in the language of each national. And this can be automated.
Regardless; even if Americans were to recover their liberties, this would not extend to protecting the liberties of those outside of their national narcissistic self-concern. The amassing of every electronic data transaction of individuals in Canada, Europe or elsewhere, would continue apace. And that dragnet, could at any time, be used in the future for extorting leveraging on any non-national to serve American self-interests as geopolitical fortunes toss to and fro.
It is hard to believe that limp protests by politically and militarily weak allies or other countries would effectively alter the conduct of America’s intelligence agencies and their overlords. Therefore, what to do?
Money talks in America. And perhaps, it is time that those outside of the U.S., who constitutes 95% total world population, begin to boycott the use of American I.T. products, services and infrastructure. What if global communications could bypass American gateway points, which record all electronic transactions, except when there is particular need for American resources? What if Canada became an alternative base and route for telecom and internet traffic between Europe and Asia for instance? What if there was an international consortium that sought to avoid the American monopoly and hegemony on information flow, (which now constitutes 85% of world bandwidth capacity (PRISM figures))? Are not non-American businesses worried about industrial espionage by this secretive American military-industrial complex? Would the threat of bypassing the U.S. imperialist be sufficient to leverage some restraint on the American political elite?
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I have long believed that the United States was on a trajectory to civil conflagration since the mid-1980s. This was based on the existence of an irreconcilable civilizational-level ideological chasm, which could only widen, deepen and sharpen as the corollaries of each side’s cosmological perspective played itself out in the sociopolitical arena. The problem is not so much in the gulf in ideas; but in the arrogance of each faction attempting to impose their ethic and ethos upon the other and the anticipated antipathetic reaction of the other.
In Thomas Carlyle’s “The French Revolution” (1837), he mentions British diplomat, Lord Chesterfield, anticipating that conflagration in 1753. “In short, all the symptoms which I have ever met with in History, previous to great Changes and Revolutions in government, now exist and daily increase in France.” I have felt the same about the U.S. However, the problem with predictions is timelines. Lord Chesterfield would need to wait another 36 years for the French Revolution to occur.
Around mid-May, I thought that there was enough evidence to place the timeline of real evidence of civil strife in the U.S. within a decade. With these latest NSA revelations and all of the corollaries to be concluded from them, it could be much closer. Or, this porn, gaming and social media generation just might return to its somnolence of silly trivialities in convenient cynical apathy, while a political coup occurs.
However, if the U.S. implodes in civil discord, does the rest of the world really want to be so dependent on American resources, which will then be subject to internal sabotage?