*edit, September 14, 2017 – I’m a little late with this, but better late than never. Something caused to remember that Lavabit was resurrected. Here’s a link to an Intercept article about it. I have big issues with Pierre’s boys, but let’s set that aside for now: “Encrypted Email Service Once Used by Edward Snowden Relaunches” by Kim Zetter
*edit, August 13, 2013 – I added in an excerpt from the August 7 episode of Democracy Now, not as an afterthought, which wouldn’t be too big a crime, but because it was actually the information that formed the core of my thought about this matter. As I built my post, I forgot to place that at it’s center.
*edit, Nov 1, 2016 – I recall, vaguely, the Toronto Star article, by Tony Burman, which I was thinking of when I mentioned him, below. But I neglected to link to it, and although I took a stab at finding it, I have not found it. I’m not even sure whether it was an article in which Burman talks about Al Jazeera or Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post. But I did find an article by him discussing Al Jazeera America in which he discusses the political problem with it (http://tinyurl.com/jt9hwc5). And it’s upside down. His view that if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have a problem with it, then it’s a problem, speaks volumes about his utlility to the people. That utility to the people is less than zero.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article, by Glenn Greenwald, follows:
A Texas-based encrypted email service recently revealed to be used by Edward Snowden – Lavabit – announced yesterday it was shutting itself down in order to avoid complying with what it perceives as unjust secret US court orders to provide government access to its users’ content…
What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:
I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”
Does that sound like a message coming from a citizen of a healthy and free country? Secret courts issuing secret rulings invariably in favor of the US government that those most affected [by them] are barred by law from discussing? Is there anyone incapable at this point of seeing what the United States has become?…
From “Silent Circle Preemptively Shuts Down Encrypted Email Service To Prevent NSA Spying,” by Josh Constine, we get the following:
“We knew USG would come after us”. That’s why Silent Circle CEO Michael Janke tells TechCrunch his company shut down its Silent Mail encrypted email service. It hadn’t been told to provide data to the government, but after Lavabit shut down today rather than be “complicit” with NSA spying, Silent Circle told customers it has killed off Silent Mail rather than risk their privacy…
In a statement to TechCrunch about whether the shut down was only because Silent Circle felt email was insecure, CEO Michael Janke tells us
“It goes deeper than that. There are some very high profile people on Silent Circle – and I mean very targeted people – as well as heads of state, human rights groups, reporters, special operations units from many countries. We wanted to be proactive because we knew USG would come after us due to the sheer amount of people who use us – let alone the “highly targeted high profile people”. They are completely secure and clean on Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Eyes, but email is broken because govt can force us to turn over what we have. So to protect everyone and to drive them to use the other three peer to peer products – we made the decision to do this before men on [SIC] suits show up. Now – they are completely shut down- nothing they can get from us or try and force from us – we literally have nothing anywhere.”
Silent Circle says it had been considering a more conservative slow shut-down of Silent Mail or ceasing to take on new customers, but was inspired to shut down by Lavabit.
From “Jeff Bezos: Amazon.com’s ‘dread pirate’ founder” by Simon Bowers we get the following:
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Bezos, who calls his staff “Amazonians”, or even “missionaries”, has largely ignored or brushed aside criticisms. He is happy, however, to let the impression linger that Amazon is not always the easiest place to work.
“Our culture is ‘friendly and intense’,” he has said. “But if push comes to shove we’ll settle for ‘intense’.” His business philosophy borrows from the Japanese kaizen concept of seeking continual improvement, credited with helping build great success at Toyota for many years.
But one former senior Amazonian has described the result as “a pretty brutal Darwinian atmosphere”. Another former insider, the programmer and blogger Steve Yegge, has claimed that Bezos, on occasion, jokingly suggested staff – working in what Yegge called “dirt-smeared cube farms” – should be paying the Amazon founder for the privilege of working for his business.
Yegge’s colourful 2011 blog posting – which he claimed was made public by accident – cast the Amazon boss as “Dread Pirate Bezos”, spitting out instructions that saw his acolytes “scramble like ants being pounded with a rubber mallet”.
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You, like your powerful class of parasites, have our attention Mr. Bezos. And God’s.
My online response to the top-of-post linked-to article follows:
Well, as I said on the Common Dreams website, where my post was disappeared (a frequent occurrence there lately although CD says it’s their spam filter), It’s not always enough that you’re playing by their rules and doing capitalism. Your devotion, occasionally, is required to be visible. Worship the wild beast or else. Those – like AJ executives and assorted frenemies pushing Al Jazeera America to commit moral and intellectual (spiritual) suicide for possible temporary gain – who demonstrate their willingness to sin in order to survive, gain corporatocracy’s approval (hello b Hilary Clinton) but also cause a lot of unforgiveable damage. Tony Burman (a dead liberal – http://tinyurl.com/jt9hwc5) knows very well, and avoids saying it, that it’s not solely about a market assessment.
Just as experts indicated when Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post was being discussed on Democracy Now, it’s not always about profits. The Washington Post, a shill for the imperialism of corporatocracy, that Bezos knows will not last as hard copy, is not going to earn any more profits than Amazon. It’s not about that. It’s about serving your god and gaining the glory and richs and thrill that that brings – maybe. (http://bit.ly/11Mh0vm) What’s more, but implicit in that choice, It’s about cutting off any agency that might serve the enemy, namely the exploited people.
Just as it is true that you won’t search for something unless you think it’s lost and you need to, so too is it true that those who don’t want you to have the democracy you have (however weak) will be eager to lie to you about your belief that you’ve lost that democracy and need to find it. Al Jazeera America needs to be corrupted, thoroughly, however that might be accomplished, so that enough (bovine) viewers will not notice both the absence of a (admittedly weak) people’s AJ but start to like the propaganda that a new, pro corporatocracy AJ cranks out as ex CNN execs and soulless business people get their hands on it.
A compromised, corrupted AJ would be both a capitalist entity ‘and’ a special interest, emphasis on special. And it would be something very desirable to uncaring, unprincipled, godless elites who think that they are God, and that something is: a giant gorilla gatekeeper.
Gatekeepers are those with the right political views, from the standoint of this world’s rulers, for which reason they enjoy freedom that regular people don’t enjoy. They even enjoy impunity for their crimes in many cases. Look at the criminal bankers who Obama praises rather than jails! Gatekeepers are there to get in between the people and elites whose decisions cause trouble for the people. Elites want the people to know that it is they who, like God, control their fate. And since God doesn’t answer for his behavior, well, that’s where gatekeepers come in. They keep the riff raff away. They create a level of chaos and fear and anger that allows elites and their more powerful allies/ tools to abscond.
Jeff Bezos demonstrated his right political views when he not only answered the NSA’s invitation to assist it in growing it’s devil’s workshop surveillance activity, but welcomed the invitation eagerly.
Capitalism, like the lies and violence that have enabled it to triumph and replace all alternatives – not according to the rules of fair competition but according to the organizing principle of this dark world, namely ‘riches for the strongest’ – will eventually be destroyed. The glory of vampire capitalists will disappear in an instant. The souls that individuals have invested in that sick system will be lost (literally, fully, forever), because you can’t recover from such a loss. And it’s heartening to see a few individuals, cogs like we all are in this corporatocracy machinery, resist – and not mildly either. Well done Lavabits! Well done Lavar Levinson!
Jesus gave his followers a heads up about the opposition they would face when he said “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is it’s own. Now, because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:19) Conversely, The world rewards it’s own. That’s what Jesus would no doubt say about terrorist Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. The following is an excerpt from the August 7, 2013 episode of Democracy Now! titled “How The Washington Post’s New Owner Aided the CIA, Blocked WikiLeaks & Decimated the Book Industry”:
DENNIS JOHNSON: Well, my feelings as a publisher are the same as my feelings as an American. This is a—this is a very tough company to deal with, a company that has developed a whole new model for the marketplace of ideas. I mean, something to remember that maybe contributes to what the previous two speakers are talking about is that, you know, Amazon has, since its inception, been a company that, one, has avoided tax payments, or collecting sales tax, in not only the United States but across the world, and, two—
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.
DENNIS JOHNSON: Well, they are, as a retailer, required to collect sales taxes for everything sold on their website. They have not done that, since its inception. In fact, Bezos originally tried to start the company and found it in an Indian reservation, because he believed it would be a sovereign nation and he wouldn’t have to collect any taxes. He founded the company in Seattle because he felt it would do the company the least harm for sales, for having to not collect taxes in the rest of the country.
So, you know, it was kind of a sham the other day when President Obama went down to speak at the warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was a warehouse that Amazon opened only because they cut a deal with the state to not collect taxes for yet another year. They have never paid taxes in Tennessee to date, and they’re not going to for another year or two, but they promise to employ 2,000 people. Those are the jobs that Obama was celebrating. And, you know, this is a very damaging policy for a company to have, obviously. They’re also being contested in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe for similar policies…
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, in his letter to employees after he bought The Washington Post, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seemed to try to address any potential conflict of interest, saying, quote, “The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners.” But many people have pointed out that Amazon ranks among the biggest spenders for high-technology companies seeking to influence the federal government. Dennis Johnson, could you talk about some of that, the politics of what Amazon’s lobbying efforts have been and how this is likely, if at all, to influence what appears in The Post under Bezos?
DENNIS JOHNSON: Well, sure. Coming strictly from the book business, I mean, this is a very transparent move to have made. This is a man who has growing interests in Washington. I mean, look, we just concluded the Department of Justice prosecution of the book industry, a shocking case that seems to fly in the face of what we know about antitrust law in this country. And it was a case that most in the book business feel was orchestrated by Amazon, and indeed Amazon did file the initial complaints that started that case. Well, they won. And when they won, most in the book industry saw this as—you know, we thought Amazon was a monopoly, to begin with; now we feel like, well, it’s a government-sanctioned monopoly. Then what happens? Just days after that decision comes down, the president of the United States goes to their warehouse to slap them on the back and say, “Good job.” This is a company that obviously—and this is—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, now that we have this new information, do you think President Obama knew he was buying The Washington Post when he went down last week? Even many of the reporters of The Washington Post who have been interviewed over the last few days, everyone seemed shocked.
DENNIS JOHNSON: Yeah, it was a really well-kept secret, but at the same time other reports are saying that it was probably cut about a month ago.
AMY GOODMAN: And given how much information the NSA gathers on us all, it would be hard to believe the president didn’t know.
DENNIS JOHNSON: I have a feeling—
AMY GOODMAN: You don’t think Jeff Bezos never mentioned this in a phone call or an email?
DENNIS JOHNSON: No, I have—who knows? I take it the president knew. But, you know, looking just at what happened, the president was down there lauding a company that he says is going to really boost the middle class, and really these are $11-an-hour jobs on average. They don’t meet the living wage of that part of the country. They were bought via tax avoidance. This is the—this is the president’s job policy?
Here's a link to an article in which Dennis talks about the case mentioned in the above excerpt: The Obama business plan: Be like Amazon
It tracks that under fascist rule, in which a minority of parasitic, macho elites and their allies are faced with an increasingly resentful wider society, you will see too much freedom for gatekeepers allied with, and hoping to be allied with, elites and too little freedom for the abused who, in desperation, will try to get accountability from the political tools who channel elites’ abuse. Police and security orgs, increasingly, can fire at will, 24/7, if that will free up elites to have meetings where they can plan how to cause more trouble for the people.
From Chris Hedges’s video interview with Paul Jay titled “America Is A Tinderbox,” the following:
[Paul Jay:] In 2008, in a piece you wrote, “Why am I a socialist?” you wrote this: “The inability to articulate a viable socialism has been our gravest mistake.” Do you still believe that?
HEDGES: Yes, because we have allowed ourselves to embrace an ideology which, at its core, states that all governance is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. For what do we have structures of government, for what do we have institutions of state, if not to hold up all the citizenry, and especially the most vulnerable?
You know, if you go back and look at the 1980s in especially the Scandinavian countries, they eradicated poverty, virtually. I lived in Switzerland, I studied French in Switzerland, and there were no homeless. The mentally ill were taken care of. It has, arguably, one of the best health-care systems in the world…
And with the wealth given to us as Americans, we could have eradicated poverty. We could have created a country that was much different than what we have created…
And you can’t sustain – first of all, you can’t sustain a democracy in an oligarchy. That’s not a new idea. Thucydides wrote about that about ancient Athens. But secondly, because there are no self-imposed limits – and in this sense Karl Marx was right, that unfettered, unregulated capitalism, especially on a global scale, is a revolutionary force. They will push and push and push until there is a backlash.
And I think part of what we’re seeing with the security and surveillance state is a preparation for that backlash – the destruction of civil liberties, which has been brutal, the wholesale surveillance and monitoring of, you know, virtually every American citizen, which I think many of us suspected and Edward Snowden, through his disclosures to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, made, you know, palpably real. The National Defense Authorization Act. And I sued the president in the Southern District Court of New York, and I won. We’re now – the Obama administration has appealed it. But this permits the military to seize, arrest American citizens, strip them of due process, and hold them in military detention centers, including our offshore penal colonies in places like Guantanamo or Bagram. And when Judge Katherine Forrest wrote her 112-page opinion, which I think is worth reading, she actually brings up the plight of the 110,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II and stripped of due process and said that this provision in the NDAA essentially allows the state to criminalize an entire group of people and lock them away without any legal redress. And they know what’s coming. The NSA has run all sorts of scenarios on economic collapse, and especially climate change. And they’re preparing.