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Snowden’s Ride, Part 10: The Beginning of World War III?

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Greeks protest­ing aus­ter­i­ty

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [3] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Updat­ed on 8/7/2013.

COMMENT: Before doing sum­ma­ry posts (or, per­haps, broad­casts in lieu of that) we high­light some addi­tion­al, dev­as­tat­ing­ly inter­est­ing devel­op­ments in con­nec­tion with L’Af­faire Snow­den.

We have done numer­ous posts since the begin­ning of this dance macabre, and emphat­i­cal­ly encour­age users of this web­site to study them at length and in detail:  Part I [4]Part II [5]Part III [6]Part IV [7]Part V [8]Part VI [9]Part VII [10], Part VIII [11]Part IX [12]Part X [13], Part XI [14], Part XII [15]Part XIII [16]Part XIV [17]Part XV [18], Part XVI [19]. It is well beyond the scope of this arti­cle to sum up the infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in them. Users of this web­site are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to exam­ine them at length and detail.

In this post, we note more inter­est­ing devel­op­ments in EU defense and intel­li­gence pos­ture, jus­ti­fied as an out­growth of the Snow­den “dis­clo­sures” (note the quotes.) Per­haps even more sig­nif­i­cant­ly, we high­light poten­tial devel­op­ments vis a vis the future of The Inter­net which may dras­ti­cal­ly affect the Amer­i­can econ­o­my and world affairs.

Tak­en togeth­er, these devel­op­ments MIGHT sig­nal the begin­ning of a Third World War–perhaps eco­nom­ic in nature and/or mil­i­tary. The impli­ca­tions for U.S. inter­net busi­ness and the Amer­i­can econ­o­my could not be exag­ger­at­ed.

We note that this mas­sive, crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant series will be “down­loaded” as a series of broad­casts present­ly.

A num­ber of con­sid­er­a­tions to be weighed in this post:

 “Ger­many Nix­es Sur­veil­lance Pact with US, Britain” by Frank Jor­dans; Asso­ci­ated Press; 8/2/2013. [20]

EXCERPT: Ger­many can­celed a Cold War-era sur­veil­lance pact with the Unit­ed States and Britain on Fri­day in response to rev­e­la­tions by Nation­al Secu­rity Agency leak­er Edward Snow­den about those coun­tries’ alleged elec­tronic eaves­drop­ping oper­a­tions.

Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel had raised the issue of alleged Nation­al Secu­rity Agency spy­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma when he vis­ited Berlin in June. But with weeks to go before nation­al elec­tions, oppo­si­tion par­ties had demand­ed clar­ity about the extent to which her gov­ern­ment knew of the intel­li­gence gath­er­ing oper­a­tions direct­ed at Ger­many and Ger­man cit­i­zens.

Gov­ern­ment offi­cials have insist­ed that U.S. and British intel­li­gence were nev­er giv­en per­mis­sion to break Germany’s strict pri­vacy laws. But they con­ceded that an agree­ment dat­ing back to the late 1960s gave the U.S., Britain and France the right to request Ger­man author­i­ties to con­duct sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions with­in Ger­many to pro­tect their troops sta­tioned there.

“The can­cel­la­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive agree­ments, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a nec­es­sary and prop­er con­se­quence of the recent debate about pro­tect­ing per­sonal pri­vacy,” Germany’s For­eign Min­is­ter Gui­do West­er­welle said in a state­ment. . . .

“Why NSA Sur­veil­lance Will Be More Dam­ag­ing Than You Think” by James Fal­lows; The Atlantic; 7/30/2013. [23]

EXCERPT: This col­umn over the week­end, by the British aca­d­e­mic John Naughton in the Guardian, takes us one more step in assess­ing the dam­age to Amer­i­can inter­ests in the broad­est sense– com­mer­cial, strate­gic, ide­o­log­i­cal — from the panop­ti­con approach to “secu­rity” brought to us by NSA-style mon­i­tor­ing pro­grams.

Naughton’s essay doesn’t tech­ni­cally tell us any­thing new. For instance, see ear­lier reports like this, this, and this. But it does sharp­en the focus in a use­ful way. Who­ever wrote the head­line and espe­cially the sub­head did a great job of cap­tur­ing the gist:

Edward Snowden’s not the sto­ry. The fate of the inter­net is.

The press has lost the plot over the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions. The fact is that the net is fin­ished as a glob­al net­work and that US firms’ cloud ser­vices can­not be trust­ed.

In short: because of what the U.S. gov­ern­ment assumed it could do with infor­ma­tion it had the tech­no­log­i­cal abil­ity to inter­cept, Amer­i­can com­pa­nies and Amer­i­can inter­ests are sure to suf­fer in their efforts to shape and ben­e­fit from the Internet’s con­tin­ued growth.

* Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, because no for­eign­ers will believe these firms can guar­an­tee secu­rity from U.S. gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance;
* Amer­i­can inter­ests, because the Unit­ed States has grave­ly com­pro­mised its plau­si­bil­ity as world-wide admin­is­tra­tor of the Internet’s stan­dards and advo­cate for its open, above-pol­i­tics goals.

Why were U.S. author­i­ties in a posi­tion to get at so much of the world’s dig­i­tal data in the first place? Because so many of the world’s cus­tomers have trust­ed* U.S.-based firms like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Ama­zon, Face­book, etc with their data; and because so many of the world’s nations have tol­er­ated an info-infra­struc­ture in which an out­sized share of data flows at some point through U.S. sys­tems. Those are the con­di­tions of trust and tol­er­a­tion that like­ly will change.

The prob­lem for the com­pa­nies, it’s worth empha­siz­ing, is not that they were so undu­ly eager to coop­er­ate with U.S. gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. Many seem to have done what they could to resist. The prob­lem is what the U.S. gov­ern­ment — first under Bush and Cheney, now under Oba­ma and Biden — asked them to do. [This, by the way is wrong. It pre­dates both Bush/Cheney and Oba­ma Biden. I dis­cussed this on air, from open sources, well before either team assumed pow­er. This high­lights my state­ment that; “Jour­nal­ists are like a flock of birds. When one lands, they all land. When one flies away, they all fly away.”–D.E.] As long as they oper­ate in U.S. ter­ri­tory and under U.S. laws, com­pa­nies like Google or Face­book had no choice but to com­ply. But peo­ple around the world who have a choice about where to store their data, may under­stand­ably choose to avoid leav­ing it with com­pa­nies sub­ject to the way Amer­ica now defines its secu­rity inter­ests.

Here’s Naughton’s ver­sion of the impli­ca­tions:

The first is that the days of the inter­net as a tru­ly glob­al net­work are num­bered. It was always a pos­si­bil­ity that the sys­tem would even­tu­ally be Balka­nised, ie divid­ed into a num­ber of geo­graph­i­cal or juris­dic­tion-deter­mined sub­nets as soci­eties such as Chi­na, Rus­sia, Iran and oth­er Islam­ic states decid­ed that they need­ed to con­trol how their cit­i­zens com­mu­ni­cated. Now, Balka­ni­sa­tion is a cer­tain­ty....

NSA Blow­back: Ger­man Min­is­ter Floats US Com­pa­ny Ban; Der Spiegel; 8/5/2013. [24]

EXCERPT: With the NSA spy­ing scan­dal con­tin­u­ing to make head­lines in Europe, the Ger­man Jus­tice Min­is­ter, Sabine Leutheuss­er-Schnar­ren­berg­er, has raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty of new, tan­gi­ble mea­sures to pun­ish cor­po­ra­tions that par­tic­i­pate in Amer­i­can spy­ing activ­i­ties. In an inter­view with Die Welt, the lib­er­al Leutheuss­er-Schnar­ren­berg­er called for the cre­ation of EU-wide rules to reg­u­late the pro­tec­tion of infor­ma­tion, and said that, once those rules are in place, “Unit­ed States com­pa­nies that don’t abide by these stan­dards should be denied doing busi­ness in the Euro­pean mar­ket.”

Leutheuss­er-Schnar­ren­berg­er said that a pack­age of EU mea­sures is required in order to fight “the wide­spread spy­ing of for­eign spy ser­vices” and that Ger­man data pro­tec­tion laws should be a yard­stick for the rest of the Euro­pean Union — Ger­man pri­va­cy laws are con­sid­er­ably tighter than those of the Unit­ed States and much of Europe.

Ger­man Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Hans-Peter Friedrich also raised cor­po­rate account­abil­i­ty in July, when he sug­gest­ed requir­ing Euro­pean firms to report any data they hand over to for­eign coun­tries. Leutheuss­er-Schnar­ren­berg­er, who is run­ning for reelec­tion in Sep­tem­ber as part of the pro-busi­ness Free Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, did not fur­ther spec­i­fy which kinds of penal­ties she would like Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to face, though it seems unlike­ly that Europe would com­plete­ly ban com­pa­nies like Google, which dom­i­nate the online search mar­ket, or Face­book from doing busi­ness. Both of those com­pa­nies were impli­cat­ed in the doc­u­ments leaked by for­mer intel­li­gence work­er Edward Snow­den.

It is the lat­est devel­op­ment in a Ger­man elec­tion sea­son that has come to be dom­i­nat­ed by online pri­va­cy issues. Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has faced wide­spread crit­i­cism from the oppo­si­tion for her han­dling of the NSA scan­dal and Peer Stein­brück, the Chan­cel­lor can­di­date of the oppo­si­tion SPD par­ty, recent­ly told Ger­man tele­vi­sion chan­nel ZDF that Merkel should demand writ­ten assur­ances from the Amer­i­cans they will respect Ger­man laws and inter­ests and not engage in indus­tri­al espi­onage . . . .

“U.S. Sur­veil­lance Puts Inter­net Gov­er­nance at Risk” by Michael Geist; Mon­tre­al Gazette; 7.30/2013. [25]

EXCERPT: One year ago, many users were engaged in a con­tentious debate over the ques­tion of who should gov­ern the Inter­net. The debate pit­ted the cur­rent mod­el led by a U.S.-based orga­ni­za­tion known as the Inter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for Assigned Names and Num­bers (ICANN, sup­ported by the U.S.) against a gov­ern­ment-led, Unit­ed Nations-style mod­el under which coun­tries such as Chi­na and Rus­sia could assert greater con­trol over Inter­net gov­er­nance. The dif­fer­ences between the two approach­es were nev­er as stark as some por­trayed since the cur­rent mod­el grants the U.S. con­sid­er­able con­trac­tual pow­er over ICANN, but the fear of greater for­eign gov­ern­ment con­trol over the Inter­net led to strong polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion to UN involve­ment.

While sup­port­ers of the cur­rent mod­el ulti­mately pre­vailed at a UN con­fer­ence in Dubai last Decem­ber where most West­ern democ­ra­cies, includ­ing Cana­da, strong­ly reject­ed major Inter­net gov­er­nance reforms, the issue was fun­da­men­tally about trust. Giv­en that all gov­ern­ments have become more vocal about Inter­net mat­ters, the debate was nev­er over whether gov­ern­ment would be involved, but rather about who the glob­al Inter­net com­mu­nity trust­ed to lead on gov­er­nance mat­ters. . . .

. . . . Not only do the sur­veil­lance pro­grams them­selves raise enor­mous pri­vacy and civ­il lib­er­ties con­cerns, but over­sight and review is con­ducted almost entire­ly in secret with lit­tle or no abil­ity to guard against mis­use. In fact, U.S. offi­cials have now acknowl­edged pro­vid­ing inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion on the pro­grams to elect­ed politi­cians, rais­ing fur­ther ques­tions about who is watch­ing the watch­ers.

The sur­veil­lance pro­grams have emerged as a con­tentious polit­i­cal issue in the U.S., and there are sev­eral rea­sons why the rever­ber­a­tions are like­ly to extend to the glob­al Inter­net gov­er­nance com­mu­nity.

First, the ele­ment of trust has been severe­ly com­pro­mised. Sup­port­ers of the cur­rent Inter­net gov­er­nance mod­el fre­quently point­ed to Inter­net sur­veil­lance and the lack of account­abil­ity with­in coun­tries such as Chi­na and Rus­sia as evi­dence of the dan­ger of a UN-led mod­el. With the pub­lic now aware of the cre­ation of a mas­sive, secret U.S.-backed Inter­net sur­veil­lance pro­gram, the U.S. has ced­ed the moral high ground on the issue.

Sec­ond, as the scope of the sur­veil­lance becomes increas­ingly clear, many coun­tries are like­ly to opt for a balka­nized Inter­net in which they do not trust oth­er coun­tries with the secu­rity or pri­vacy of their net­worked com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This could lead to new laws requir­ing com­pa­nies to store their infor­ma­tion domes­ti­cally to counter sur­veil­lance of the data as it cross­es bor­ders or resides on com­puter servers locat­ed in the U.S. In fact, some may go fur­ther by resist­ing the inter­op­er­abil­ity of the Inter­net that we now take for grant­ed.

Third, some of those same coun­tries may demand sim­i­lar lev­els of access to per­sonal infor­ma­tion from the Inter­net giants. This could cre­ate a “pri­vacy race to the bot­tom,” where gov­ern­ments around the world cre­ate par­al­lel sur­veil­lance pro­grams, ensur­ing that online pri­vacy and co-oper­a­tive Inter­net gov­er­nance is a thing of the past. . . .

“World Brief­ing | Europe: Report On U.S. Spy Sys­tem” by Suzanne Daley; The New York Times; 9/6/2001. [26]

EXCERPT: [Notice when this was published–9/6/2001.–D.E.] . . . The Unit­ed States-led spy­ing sys­tem known as Ech­e­lon can mon­i­tor vir­tu­al­ly every com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the world — by e‑mail, phone or fax — that bounces off a satel­lite, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment was told. But in report­ing on a year­long study of the sys­tem that was prompt­ed by con­cern that Amer­i­can com­pa­nies were using data from the sys­tem to gain a com­pet­i­tive edge, Ger­hard Schmid, a Ger­man mem­ber of the Par­lia­ment, said that many Euro­pean coun­tries had sim­i­lar abil­i­ties . . .

 “Qae­da Mes­sages Prompt U.S. Ter­ror Warn­ing” by Eric Schmitt; The New York Times; 8/2/2013. [29]

EXCERPT: The Unit­ed States inter­cept­ed elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions this week among senior oper­a­tives of Al Qae­da, in which the ter­ror­ists dis­cussed attacks against Amer­i­can inter­ests in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, Amer­i­can offi­cials said Fri­day.

The inter­cepts and a sub­se­quent analy­sis of them by Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agen­cies prompt­ed the Unit­ed States to issue an unusu­al glob­al trav­el alert to Amer­i­can cit­i­zens on Fri­day, warn­ing of the poten­tial for ter­ror­ist attacks by oper­a­tives of Al Qae­da and their asso­ciates begin­ning Sun­day through the end of August. Intel­li­gence offi­cials said the threat focused on the Qae­da affil­i­ate in Yemen, which has been tied to plots to blow up Amer­i­can-bound car­go and com­mer­cial flights.

The bul­letin to trav­el­ers and expa­tri­ates, issued by the State Depart­ment, came less than a day after the depart­ment announced that it was clos­ing near­ly two dozen Amer­i­can diplo­mat­ic mis­sions in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, includ­ing facil­i­ties in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait and Sau­di Ara­bia. Britain said Fri­day that it would close its embassy in Yemen on Mon­day and Tues­day because of “increased secu­ri­ty con­cerns.” . . . .

“U.S. Cuts Take Increas­ing Toll on Job Growth” by Jack­ie Calmes and Cather­ine Ramp­bell; The New York Times; 8/2/2013. [31]

EXCERPT: . . . .Cor­po­rate and aca­d­e­m­ic econ­o­mists say that Washington’s fis­cal fights have pro­duced bud­get poli­cies that amount to a self-inflict­ed drag on the economy’s recov­ery.

Joseph J. Minarik, direc­tor of research at the cor­po­rate-sup­port­ed Com­mit­tee for Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment and a for­mer gov­ern­ment econ­o­mist, said he could not remem­ber in post­war times when fis­cal pol­i­cy was so at odds with the needs of the econ­o­my.

“The macro­eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion is high­ly unusu­al,” he said, adding: “We have to be con­cerned about our debt get­ting total­ly out of hand, so we are con­cerned about the fed­er­al bud­get. But the con­cern has got to be tem­pered by the fact that we have got to get some eco­nom­ic growth going as well.” . . . .

. . . . “The dis­junc­tion between text­book eco­nom­ics and the choic­es being made in Wash­ing­ton is larg­er than any I’ve seen in my life­time,” said Justin Wolfers, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at the Ger­ald R. Ford School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. “At a time of mass unem­ploy­ment, it’s clear, the eco­nom­ics text­books tell us, that this is not the right time for fis­cal retrench­ment.” 

Giv­en that rough con­sen­sus in an oth­er­wise quar­rel­some pro­fes­sion, he added, “To watch it be ignored like this is exas­per­at­ing, hor­ri­fy­ing, dis­heart­en­ing.” . . . .

“N.S.A. Leaks Make Plan for Cyberde­fense Unlike­ly” by David E. Sanger; The New York Times; 8/13/2013. [34]

EXCERPT: Even while rapid­ly expand­ing its elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance around the world, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency has lob­bied inside the gov­ern­ment to deploy the equiv­a­lent of a “Star Wars” defense for America’s com­put­er net­works, designed to inter­cept cyber­at­tacks before they could crip­ple pow­er plants, banks or finan­cial mar­kets.

But admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say the plan, cham­pi­oned by Gen. Kei­th B. Alexan­der, the direc­tor of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency and head of the Pentagon’s Cyber Com­mand, has vir­tu­al­ly no chance of mov­ing for­ward giv­en the back­lash against the N.S.A. over the recent dis­clo­sures about its sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

Senior agency offi­cials con­cede that much of the tech­nol­o­gy need­ed to fil­ter mali­cious soft­ware, known as mal­ware, by search­ing incom­ing mes­sages for signs of pro­grams designed to steal data, or attack banks or ener­gy firms, is strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar to the tech­nol­o­gy the N.S.A. already uses for sur­veil­lance.

“The plan was always a lit­tle vague, at least as Kei­th described it, but today it may be Snowden’s biggest sin­gle vic­tim,” one senior intel­li­gence offi­cial said recent­ly, refer­ring to Edward J. Snow­den, the for­mer N.S.A. con­trac­tor who released doc­u­ments reveal­ing details of many of the agency’s sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

“What­ev­er trust was there is now gone,” the offi­cial added. “I mean, who would believe the N.S.A. when it insists it is block­ing Chi­nese attacks but not using the same tech­nol­o­gy to read your e‑mail?” . . . .