Wisdom of the Whistleblower
When I first exposed the existence of the signals-intelligence (SIGINT) community and the National Security Agency some 40 years ago, I mentioned that among the many tentacles of what Tim Shorrock calls the “cyberintelligence ruling class” [“The New Cybersecurity Elite,” June 15] were private SIGINT outfits created by present and former officials of the NSA and the “Five Eyes” [Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States]. Even then, I thought the commercialization of intelligence would reach a point where you would not be able to tell what was being done in the national interest and what was being done for commercial profit. Indeed, throughout history, intelligence for profit has led to false intelligence.
Please keep reporting on these issues, as we will learn the truth only through courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and great reporters like Shorrock. For 40 years, the fact of these spying abuses has been known to the public. Will it take another 40 years, and another Snowden risking it all once again, before we stop the ruling class and its spies? Or will we just accept the spread of “technofascism”? It is up to the current generation of citizens to determine if we are to have freedom and peace—or control of our destinies by a technologically enhanced ruling class committed to permanent war and tech dominance over the rest of us.
Ignorance Is Remiss
Eric Alterman’s strong effort to set the media record straight (“Fool Me Twice,” June 15) on the propaganda leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is weakened a bit when he attributes to the perpetrators—Bush, Cheney, et al.—the faults of “arrogance, ignorance, [and] incompetence.” Arrogant they certainly were, while incompetent would be debatable: Bush and Cheney were reelected, served their terms, and retired comfortably at taxpayer expense; Cheney’s company, Halliburton, has profited enormously; and so on.
But “ignorance”? That’s the plea of those who voted to authorize Bush’s actions, though it’s unlikely to be true for any of them. If we, out here in flyover Ohio—who mostly had to rely on a war-fawning press, but also had information from magazines like The Nation—knew that Saddam Hussein didn’t have nukes, didn’t want war, and didn’t harbor terrorists, surely those in Congress at the time knew these things as well. C-SPAN also helped, as we could watch powerful speeches before Congress by Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Robert Byrd, and others.
No, in addition to arrogance, let’s attribute the invasion to Bush and Cheney’s coldheartedness, brutality, and inhumanity. If anyone on our side did not understand what was going on, it was probably—and sadly—some of our troops, who were told they were avenging 9/11 and taking out the terrorists. Instead, we were creating them.
Alterman’s understatement aside, readers owe The Nation a vote of confidence and thanks for its coverage of the war. It’s too bad we can’t hold the rest of the press accountable for its complicity in the horror of the Iraq War and its aftermath.
Thank you for printing Maria Margaronis’s illuminating piece, “Turkish Democracy Under Siege” [June 8]. By peeling away the layers of pretense perpetuated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, she shrewdly revealed a man wearing the sheepskin of democracy while continuing the tyrannical rule of Turkey’s past. Margaronis’s thorough reporting helped me understand Turkey’s present-day realities and the pivotal importance of the election.
Unfortunately, Turkey will never shed its shameful history in the Armenian genocide until it finds the humility to say it is sorry, and the sense of justice to make reparations.
Bruce David Badrigian
morro bay, calif.
The Exceptions to the Rulers
In “Neo-McCarthyism and the US Media” by James Carden [June 8], we are told that the authors of the report “The Menace of Unreality” recommend that “media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community.” Alas, this would leave only Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, NPR’s All Things Considered, and The Nation.
After reading Joshua Clover’s May 25 “Pop & Circumstance” column, I was delighted to learn that I’m not the only one noticing that our old pal Money has been behaving strangely of late. For years, cheerful newscasters have been telling us that “the Market”—Money’s Facebook alias—“behaved skittishly yesterday,” that the Market reacted angrily to President Obama’s stimulus plan, and that we had no alternative but to listen to the insatiable Market. Last week, however, things got worse, as a friend told me that the Market, a k a Money, was seen in McCluskey’s knocking back his fourth double bourbon, muttering about “the guvmint,” his ex-wife, and the Mets’ pitiful relief pitching, and pounding the bar as he vowed to “make ’em all sorry.”
Dear Nation readers, isn’t it about time we all had an intervention with our old friend Money and steered him toward some Keynesian help? After all, none of us wants to be talking to CNN newscasters after “the incident,” recalling that Money was a quiet neighbor and that we never saw it coming.
Robert M. Zecker
st. andrews, nova scotia
Destroying the New Deal
George Scialabba [“Damage,” May 25] eloquently summarizes some of the complicated details on how the wealthy and powerful reclaimed control of US politics and the economy in the last 40 years. However, he overlooks the elephant in the living room: personal income-tax rates. The “few golden…post–World War II decades” were extraordinary precisely because business was regulated and significant wealth was directed to the government. That wealth was used for beneficial purposes and simultaneously denied to the wealthy. This was the point.
US “capitalism began to cannibalize itself in the 1980s” primarily because the federal government abdicated its authority in an orgy of deregulation and simultaneously lopped off the top tax brackets. This was a complete reversal of the policies pursued by FDR, all supposedly in pursuit of a greater free-market good. No matter how thin you slice the baloney, it’s still baloney.