Nothing to Hide

Many pundits have claimed that they are not worried about NSA spying because they have nothing to hide. But is having nothing to hide any guarantee of safety from those with power? Sergey Aleynikov had nothing to hide, but Goldman Sachs was still able to send him to prison, and wants to send him back. At Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis asks, Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer?

The real mystery, to the insiders, wasn’t why Serge had done what he had done. It was why Goldman Sachs had done what it had done. Why on earth call the F.B.I.? Why coach your employees to say what they need to say on a witness stand to maximize the possibility of sending him to prison? Why exploit the ignorance of both the general public and the legal system about complex financial matters to punish this one little guy? Why must the spider always eat the fly?

They had no end of theories about this, but one was more intriguing than the others. It had to do with the nature of Goldman Sachs these days, and the way people who work for the firm get ahead. As one put it, “Every manager of a Wall Street tech group likes to have people believe that his guys are geniuses. Their whole persona among their peers is that what they and their team do can’t be replicated. When people find out that 95 percent of their code is open-source, it kills that perception. . . . So when the security people come to them and tell them about the downloads, they can’t say, ‘No big deal.’ And they can’t say, ‘I don’t know what he took.’ ”

To put it another way: the process that ended with Serge Aleynikov sitting inside a federal prison may have started with some Goldman Sachs employees concerned about their bonuses. As they walked down Wall Street and into the night, one of the jurors said, “I’m actually nauseous. It makes me sick.”

And Counterpunch looks at The Snowden Effect:

But for Mr. Snowden there would have been no discussion of the FISA court. We would not have learned that ten of the 11 judges assigned to the FISA court by Chief Justice John Roberts from among all federal judges, are Republicans appointed to the bench by Republicans. But for Mr. Snowden we would not have learned that of 1856 requests to the FISA court for secret surveillance none was denied by the FISA court. But for Mr. Snowden there would be no discussion at the national level of the fact that there is no one to represent the public when the Justice Department asks the FISA court for permission to conduct secret surveillance.

I heard on the radio that a former FISA judge wished there had been someone to represent the privacy side of the argument.

Of course Mr. Snowden didn’t give us all that information. He was just the one who forced us to have the discussion. Before he spoke all we had were a couple of senators who kept saying that if we knew all the bad things the government was doing we’d be really upset but because the bad things were highly confidential they were not at liberty to disclose them. It was Mr. Snowden who caused the discussion to occur with the result we may be protected from some of the abuses that the Senators could not disclose or prevent.

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