Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (9:08 PM)

For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat understand the idea behind such a place that according to the article in Wired, will be “…secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”  It is for the greater good, right?  We should be okay with the NSA doing this as a way to protect us, shouldn’t we?  The issue I have is intent.  What is the intent of all of this data collection?  How will this information be used?  How could it possibly be used against me or someone I know?

When I was in 9th grade I had a world history teacher named Mr. Meyerholz.  He was different from any other teacher than I had ever had before.  He was different because he offered contrarian viewpoints to history.  Up until that point I had been taught that our government would take care of us and had our best interests at heart. (Over simplified for purposes of blog!) In class one day he said that many people did not mind having a dictator as they would not have to be bothered by making decisions about their own lives.  He would question us with what it would look like if we stopped paying attention and just let out leaders rule without opposition. Looking back it all makes sense.  Mr. Meyerholz was ahead of his time!

I have added a scene from the movie The American President. I think it is very appropriate in this situation.  It is the scene near the end of the movie where President Andrew Shepherd addresses some issues that his opponent has questioned him on.  I especially like his explanation of free speech and the way he explains how elections are won.  He doesn’t use the word apathy, but I will.  This seems to be a common theme to me in the articles, especially the Snowden and Assange articles.  Each of these men, in their own way, have brought information to the world and it is up to us to react or not.

In the Wired interview Snowden made an excellent point regarding NSA fatigue comparing the mass surveillance leaks to the deaths of troops during a war.  We get used to hearing it and we stop paying attention to it.  It is not news anymore, it is the new normal.  I would argue that the average person does not care that the NSA is listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails.  I would further argue that they do not believe it is going on in the first place.  Why would our government do this to us?  I live in Hometown, USA and I have nothing to do with terrorist plots so why would the NSA worry itself over what I am doing? Why, indeed.

I have also included a 60 Minutes interview regarding the Edward Snowden data breach.  It offers a different view of Mr. Snowden than the article in Wired.   I realize the NSA has to save face and I understand the badmouthing of Snowden, but it felt odd.  I felt as though they were talking someone I knew.  I had not really paid much attention to him until taking this class.  I just figured he was a traitor pure and simple.  The article about him made his explanation sound so plausible.  This 60 Minutes interview discusses the clean up after he left the NSA.  They had no idea what he had done or even taken.

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Meyerholz when I was reading the article about Julian Assange.  Mr. Meyerholz would say that we are allowing ourselves to be led around by our noses and that we need to question what is going on.  Julian Assange is trying to do this with WikiLeaks.   His life’s work is bringing information to the people and the people are not paying attention.  For example, he and his staff went to great lengths to edit and share the video Collateral Murder.  Once it was made public the military was able to explain its actions by saying that they had not violated any rules of engagement.

Again, I think it is difficult for the average person to think that the military would do something so criminal.  One point that Khatchadourian made in the article that I think is very important to remember is that, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.”  This, I think, may cloud the information that he provides.  He may very well be putting lives in danger and there are those that do not understand that policy.

Any information can be manipulated and used for ill will.  I feel the lesson from the readings this week and Mr. Meyerholz is to question what is being done with the information.  The groundbreaking ceremony under a tent in Utah is a bit suspect!  On the other hand I also think it is funny that the article tells us where the top secret facility is!  I know I have just contradicted myself, but it is a very hard topic to form a solid opinion on.  So I will offer this.  I have heard it said before on more than one occasion that hope is not a strategy.  But I hope that the information that is being collected by the NSA is being used for good and not evil.  I hope the information gathered and leads to stopping future terrorist attacks and saves lives.  I hope, I hope, I hope.


I just saw this and thought it was interesting.  I wonder if Aaron Portnoy helped Apple out?

Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash|Reuters





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Rosatelli said...

Thanks for the great links, Ginger! You are drawing some wonderful connections to popular culture and current events. You, like many of the students this week, are recognizing the complexity that the Snowden leaks and mass surveillance present to us. These are not black and white issues, and they present a dizzying array of questions and non-answers. I wish I had some for us, but I do not! I don’t know if you noticed, but Snowden has a very distinct sticker on his computer, it’s of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Any guesses who started that? Our friend Steward Brand. It’s a direct line from Whole Earth and the lot. Snowden is very much a disciple of the early internet mentality that information should be free and people, not governments should control the flow of information. (Not really the type of person that should be working at the NSA, but that’s just my two cents!) I encourage you to think about these links and how we attempt to ‘update’ the rhetoric that Turner so wonderfully describes.

// 05/27/2015 at 8:37 pm