Good State, Bad State

Josh Marshall has an interesting post trying to make peace between himself and TPM readers that presumably support the NSA leak:

Here is I think the essential difference and where it comes back to what I referred to before – a basic difference in one’s idea about the state and the larger political community. If you see the state as essentially malevolent or a bad actor then really anything you can do to put a stick in its spokes is a good thing. Same if you think the conduct of US foreign policy is fundamentally a bad thing. Then opening up its books for the world to see is a good thing simply because it exposes it or damages it. It forces change on any number of levels. …

On the other hand, if you basically identify with the country and the state, then indiscriminate leaks like this are purely destructive. They’re attacks on something you fundamentally believe in, identify with, think is working on your behalf.

I would not conflate, “the country and the state” so readily. They are increasingly not the same thing at all. The state is becoming more and more a tool of the wealthy elite. One can certainly identify with and support the country of one’s birth but still oppose the bought-and-paid-for politicians (and media) that control the state.

Now, in practice, there are a million shades of grey. … But it comes down to this essential thing: is the aim and/or effect of the leak to correct an abuse or simply to blow the whole thing up?

Is it possible to correct the abuses – which occur in secret – without opening the whole thing up?

In contrast to Michael Wolraich at dagblog, who says I Don’t Give a Damn About Privacy because he has nothing to hide, a Dish reader wrote, Don’t Fear Government Malice, Fear Its Incompetence:

I’m not overly concerned that our government will abuse the info they’re collecting (for the moment at least). As a previous commenters said about people finding themselves on no-fly lists accidentally, I’m extremely concerned that our government will confuse the info of the innocent with that of the guilty. And the innocent will have no recourse.

It won’t only be the government mishandling your data. Democracy Now interviewed Tim Shorrock, who wrote, Meet the contractors analyzing your private data, for Salon:

With about 70 percent of our national intelligence budgets being spent on the private sector – a discovery I made in 2007 and first reported in Salon – contractors have become essential to the spying and surveillance operations of the NSA.

From Narus, the Israeli-born Boeing subsidiary that makes NSA’s high-speed interception software, to CSC, the “systems integrator” that runs NSA’s internal IT system, defense and intelligence, contractors are making millions of dollars selling technology and services that help the world’s largest surveillance system spy on you. If the 70 percent figure is applied to the NSA’s estimated budget of $8 billion a year (the largest in the intelligence community), NSA contracting could reach as high as $6 billion every year.

But it’s probably much more than that.


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