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If something can be anything, it usually becomes everything.
Everything is so anticlimactic.
Nothing lasts forever, of course, but Nothing doesn't resonate with a teenager the way Forever does, because, for better or worse, it's hard to imagine ever not feeling this way, being this person, having this life.
Friendship provokes us to pause a moment, shrug off our workaday carapace, and just be flesh and blood. Like a guardian spirit, a friend may ask and then reorient us a bit, a leverage like New Year's Eve. Traction, context: to remain among the living, hugged and germane, is the idea. When we blossom, does our bouquet have a scent? Life is not a dogfight. We pile together like puppies for warmth and sniffing, or wriggle, wag, and stilt-walk instead of quarreling. Make me not feel nightmarishly alone, or even lonesome. People who for one reason or another can't boast of having enough friends will enlarge the circle by imagining they register in the lives of folk who barely acknowledge them with a nod.
We lavish $70 billion a year on weddings, more than we spend on pets, coffee, toothpaste and toilet paper combined.
Tim Kreider's married friend:
It's not as if being married means you're any less alone.
||Lawfare › N.S.A.: “Not (So) Secret Anymore”
I have rearranged the content linked blog post in order to make a point:
Why didn’t we just amend FISA and do it under statute? It would’ve been easy at that time.
The answer I got from intelligence professionals was that we could not amend FISA without a public debate on why we needed to do it, and the public debate would’ve tipped off some of our targets.
The true answer was that the Bush-Cheney administration hated FISA. They thought it impinged on Executive authority, and they were intent on exercising untrammeled Presidential power under Article II of the Constitution – as if Congress didn’t also have power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce under Article I.
We keep getting told that bulk meta-data collection needed to be kept secret because if terrorists knew that this was going on, they would change tactics in order to avoid it. I don't think there is any truth to this assertion. Everyone knows that the government has the ability to monitor telecommunications. Any terrorist operative has to assume that his phone might be monitored. Everyone knows that the telecoms store meta data. That meta-data can be requested by the government.
What tactical advantage is conveyed to terrorists by informing them that data which they know to be stored in a phone company database is copied into another database that the government operates? The simple truth is that there is no tactical advantage conveyed by this information.
The reason these programs weren't publicly disclosed is because they are illegal, because the American people don't approve of them, and because the bulk-meta data program in particular may violate Constitutional guarantees of Freedom of Association.
If you're the sort of person who believes in the virtue of maximalization of state power, and you don't have a lot of respect for constraints upon that power, whether legal or Constitutional, than proceeding without regard for public policy is the kind of thing you're apt to do. We should stop trying to rationalize this behavior as having some practical motivation.
This was the problem from the beginning with the Bush/Cheney approach to the GWOT. What is unfortunate, is that Obama ran as an alternative to that approach, and yet we find that he does not represent an alternative. In this respect Obama is far more sinister a character than Bush & Cheney. At least the conservatives are open about their embrace of totalitarianism.
Lawfare › N.S.A.: “Not (So) Secret Anymore”
||Lawfare › Reflections on U.S. Economic Espionage, Post-Snowden
Jack Goldsmith paints a picture of a US IC that targets private companies in order to collect intelligence - an Occidental Persistent Threat:
If the suggestion is that the USG does not generally collect against foreign firms, it is wrong... Given the USG’s broad economic interests, and the tight link between economics and national security, one can assume that NSA collection of commercial and economic information is very robust.
He then goes on the argue that the US should not back down in targeting these firms:
It will also be interesting to see, if this scale-back comes to pass, how the USG will credibly convey that it has scaled back its global snooping. It is not obvious to me that it can credibly convey this information, even if the restraints were embodied in public law. And that fact might be the best argument that it should not scale back, since little concrete credibility can be gained (for the USG or U.S. IT firms), and much can be lost on the intelligence front.
In other words, there is no point in passing laws that constrain our intelligence services because no one believes that we obey our own laws anyway.
If the US isn't going to back down in targeting private companies, than foreign countries aren't going to back down either. The result is going to be a cyber cold war in which everyone who uses the Internet is a target. Over the long term this will have dramatic effects on the architecture of computer networks and the openness of the Internet in general as a platform for collaboration. People are already removing data from foreign cloud services because they are worried that it is exposed. If their systems are constantly targeted by spies when they use the Internet, they are going to use the Internet less often.
Good fences make good neighbors. We aren't going to have a global village if we can't respect each others privacy. We may be standing at the high-water mark - the place where the great wave of human interaction and interconnectivity that has been unleashed over the past few decades by the development of the Internet has finally broken, and is beginning to roll back.
Lawfare › Reflections on U.S. Economic Espionage, Post-Snowden