Dear Politicians: Exposing US Dirty Laundry Isn't Aiding The Enemy

from the words-have-meaning dept

Allow me to be nostalgic for a moment, because I remember a time when words used to actually mean something. I remember when terrorism actually meant terrorism and wasn’t just a trump card of a word used by the government to do whatever the hell they want. I seem to recall a glorious era when hacking was hacking and not just sitting down at the local library computer lab and screwing with someone who forgot to log out of Facebook.

And you know what other phrase I remember having an actual sensible meaning? Aiding the enemy. Unfortunately, that phrase too is apparently going to be co-opted by a group of horribly cynical jackwagons over the coming weeks. We already talked about Rep. Peter King, proud supporter of the IRA, a terrorist organization, and his confusion between where reporting on actions taken against the American people end and national security begins. I’m a bit unclear on how the American people knowing what a secretive arm of the government is doing to its own citizens compromises national security, unless of course Rep. King means that the government is about to have to deal with a severely pissed off electorate. But it’s only going to get worse, now that NSA leak-master Edward Snowden has added that the USA regularly hacks China.

The Morning Post said it had seen documents but was unable to verify allegations of U.S. hacking of networks in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009. Snowden told the paper that some of the targets included the Chinese University of Hong Kong, public officials and students. The documents also “point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets,” the newspaper reported.

Oh, lordy lord, next you’ll be telling us there ain’t no Santa Claus. The percentage of Americans that already assumed this was going on could probably be roughly estimated as all of them. Still, watch what will happen next. Already we’ve heard claims that Snowden’s leak has endangered American lives, without a single explanation as to what the hell that could possibly mean. He initially leaked a story about domestic spying, unlike that which was leaked by Bradley Manning. Now there is noise about how Snowden is aiding the enemy. But what enemy? We aren’t at war with China.

And besides that, exposing the government for taking part in the kind of thing that we decry everyone else doing isn’t aiding the enemy, it’s just embarrassing the shit out of our domestic agencies. Hell, it was less than a week ago that President Obama met with Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, in part to demand that the Chinese cut out their hacking.

In the official’s discussion with Reuters, he or she said that Obama will ask that Xi “abide by international norms and affirm clear rules of the road.” The U.S. president also wants to tell Xi that any cyberattacks originating from China are the government’s responsibility.

Snowden’s leak will likely torpedo any positives that came out of that meeting, but that still isn’t aiding the enemy. That phrase used to mean something. It meant helping get weapons to nations with which we are at war, or to terrorist organizations (you know, like Peter King did in working with an organization that helped finance the IRA). Or providing troop positions, military plans, or money to the enemy. It also meant giving intelligence to the enemy. Who the hell is the enemy here? It can’t be China, since we aren’t at war with them. It can’t be the press since, despite King’s wish, we aren’t at war with them either. That just leaves the target of this massive data slurp. You and I. And if we’re the enemy Snowden is accused of aiding, then we’re all in a great deal of trouble.

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Comments on “Dear Politicians: Exposing US Dirty Laundry Isn't Aiding The Enemy”

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horse with no name says:

Re: Re: note

I read carefully, and that was an example given of attacking China… except that the facility isn’t in Mainland China.

Hacking into Hong Kong is sort of pointless, considering that HK is really on the US side more than anything, even though it’s a part of China, sort of.

The difference is pretty important, it’s like saying that hacking Puerto Rico would be specifically hacking the US. It’s only sort of.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: note

The Morning Post said it had seen documents but was unable to verify allegations of U.S. hacking of networks in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009. Snowden told the paper that some of the targets included the Chinese University of Hong Kong, public officials and students. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets,” the newspaper reported.

Key words required for an actual comprehension “The documents also”.

Bit of a pissant you are.

Anonymous Coward says:

well said, that man!!

the problem is, the USA government is of the opinion that it can do whatever the hell it likes, to whomsoever it likes, etc, etc, but no one else is allowed to do it too, especially if it is back to the USA. how can Obama condemn for a minute the supposed hacking that China is doing when the whole world is of the opinion that the USA is doing the same? a perfect example of what i said above. even USA industries have the same opinion. they can produce a replica of something, a fake whatever and sell it world wide, but no one else is. they can stop the production of, the distribution of whatever too, but no one else is! basically, the USA has gotten too big for it’s and everyone else boots!

i just read where airlines worldwide have just been told by the UK government that they are not allowed to let Snowden on a plane bound for UK. this isn’t done for any reasons other than the UK dont like it now that everyone knows that they are up to the same shit as the USA and also that i9 bet the USA has told them to do it! the UK cant fart without asking permission from the White House. it’s turned into an extension of the USA, and why? it’s turning gutless!!

Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The Chinese may well be hacking into US Computers. And the US (and media) has been shrilly fanning the flames of “war” and “theft”. But the US is doing the same thing!!! The US has no moral high-ground to stand on.

And along with other scandals, the Obama administration’s credibility is in the toilet. So why should we, as a nation, continue to allow ever more onerous restrictions on our civil liberties in the name of security?

David Engh (user link) says:

Re: Re:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean ? neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master ? that’s all.’

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Of course we are the enemy

Then maybe it’s time to drop the “Government”, and try out a new form of democracy (or old, if you like).

We already have the technical infrastructure, and crowdsourcing proved to be effective in many instances.
Let the real public decide what to do, and hold accountable who is at fault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Of course we are the enemy

The only ‘old’ forms of democracy are decision by consensus (cannot work beyond small village size) and athenian… where by only the head of a household had a vote, and only if they counted as a citizen, the various requirements for which were such that only something like 1/3rd quallified, and even then it was unmanageable.

The issue here isn’t democracy, as representative democracy’s always been rubbish and the US model’s particularly bad.

Your issue here is corruption and Scale, combined with an imbalance of power. Basically the USA (and corps) are too large with too few people controlling too much. Not so much the government being bloated as the whole thing being a continent sized empire. ‘Democratic’ or not, once things get That large, the Necessary bureucracy simply to run a centralised state, the armed forces to defend it, and the wealth moved just to keep it Going are so large as to render the public interest largely irrelivant as a force in comparison.

A lot of the US’s problems are difficult to impossible to solve without breaking it up. Many of the rest require smashing the larger corporations. Most difficult of all, some require either large scale reform or outright revolution.

None of which are in the interests of the majority of the few hundred people who actually get a say in what happens.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re: Re: Of course we are the enemy

There is one form of Athenian democracy I wouldn’t mind seeing again, their idea of ostracism.

Essentially when they felt a public figure got too powerful or “big for his britches” they’d vote to exile him.

Now often it was a disaster to do so, such as exiling the most capable general or admiral just before a war but I still think it would be a nice stick to wave at our politicians.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Of course we are the enemy

The ability to vote people out of the Assembly was one of the main factors that killed off the Athenian democracy by creating large classes of people that were required to act like citizens in every way except they had no voice.

Given that the US system was created and designed to prevent the sort of totalitarian abuses common to the Athenian system, bringing them back would be foolish at best.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Of course we are the enemy

Are you smarter than bees? or ants?

They all have social structures and no central government, they function following simple rules, nature is smarter than any PhD today maybe we should pay attention.

Not to mention that if you truly believe that governing by consensus cannot function, you have to deal with the fact that without consensus there will be no government at all, people will start to do what they believe it needs to be done and disregard others, why?
Because by then there is no trust.

Consensus is the only way to keep people together, is the glue that binds society.

Today we have the means to achieve consensus in a way only dreamed by the forefathers, you don’t even need to get out of your home to participate, we have the servers, we have the software, we have the tech people, we have the means and we have a model that worked before(the Tea Party showed if nothing else that people can find consensus and change things).

We can exclude the few hundred people from having the power of decision by seizing that power ourselves, we can debate the laws outside congress and find consensus like pirates find seeds and are able to find the material they want and ignore the fakes, what if instead of seeds you got a GitHub where it shows all different laws being proposed and how many people downloaded them?

Would a few people be able to coopt that system for their purposes? Maybe but highly improbable.

You just need to believe you can do it, stop complaining and actually get to work and you learn how frustrating things are, we don’t agree with almost nothing and maybe that is a plus, maybe we are not supposed to agree on everything and those things should be left open for experimentation until people can see how it works and we should only make laws about things that we all can agree upon.

Or we can start a new form of society rule by a few very simple rules, we can simulate those using games to see how it goes just like bees do.

When we have what we need then we can give the boot to the current system it served us relatively well for hundreds of years but now is time for something new.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Of course we are the enemy

Yeah, true democracy is more resistant to corruption (it’s hard to bribe 200M people), but more suspectible to demagogy.

I don’t say it would be possible to convert to this kind of crowd government in years.

Unfortunately, the current system favors dumb, controllable citizenry, while democracy would require intelligent people.

But the internet available to a lot of people, and gaining recognition as a valid information source, so maybe in the future.

In response to AC above:

Don’t forget that with the internet, we have a vast information infrastructure. With proper moderation, classification and scoring of competence (seriously, numeric skill scores/reward badges for people who prove their competence on a given field, given by their peers, just like the “insightful” and “funny” here on TD) it could be hammered into a working system.

Or not. :]

It just occured to me that it could be tested in a virtual environment, like one of the MMORPG-s. No graphics needed, but everybody who joins gain citizenship to a fictional country, assigned/taken up a position, and respond to generated events, like political situations, disasters, lawmaking etc.

Too bad I’m too dumb to create this kind of game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hacking by the US government? Who would have thought that possible given the treatment Iran got and then Obama saying they did it? You mean to tell me this is news, this hacking business?

Maybe, just maybe the US would get further with its quest to get other countries to do as it would want if the rest of the world didn’t view the US as a total hypocrite. Where you want to go with that one? Complaining about water cannons being used on protestors in Turkey? Or complaining about human rights that are conveniently ignored when it comes to the US’s own prisoners? Or having Putin saying there’s nothing wrong with spying on your own citizens cause that’s the way Russia does it?

Damn, sometimes I wish the voters would get up and beat some sense into these politicians come election time and remove a crap load of them out of office.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Complaining about water cannons being used on protestors in Turkey?

So water cannons are bad and waterboarding is OK. So I assume it’s the water pressure that they object to. Water dumped on your face at low pressure is fine; water sprayed at high pressure is not. Who says the US government doesn’t have a moral compass??

Richard (profile) says:

Enemies created by the US

In any case the supposed current enemy was actually created by the US itself

At the time they were responding to those who they thought were their enemies but who later turned out not to be (at least to the same extent).

The moral here is that you do not really know who the enemy actually is most of the time.

RyanNerd (profile) says:


Section 3 of the constitution:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort…
So if Snowden leaked information to the citizens of the United States and he is being accused of “levying war” or giving the enemy “Aid and Comfort” wouldn’t that mean that the American Citizens are the “Enemy”?

Brent Ashley (profile) says:

Re: Snowmen is a traitor

He took the information to Hong Kong and released some of it to the press. He didn’t GIVE it to China.

Besides, China is not an enemy, it’s not even exactly a competitor, it’s a trading partner.

What if he’d taken it to Canada, one of the other of the US’s biggest trading partners? Would that still be treason in your eyes?

Mike Roprocessor says:


Techdirt has actually said what not a single news agency would have said! I applaud them for having the courage.

The only thing that Snowden has done is confirmed what pretty much everyone knew.

I always suspected that the gov collected all our data and phone calls (Anyone remember Echelon? That went back pre-9/11/01). After 9/11/01, I was certain of it even if others only suspected or didn’t want to know or believe.

OMG we are hacking China! I would never have guessed in a million years! I guess now that the secret is out, that we can’t hack China any more…guess we should set our focus on Russia then….(PSST here is another secret, I am 99.999999999999999999999999999% sure that we also do it to them along with hacking our “friend” nations just as they are doing it to us. It used to be spies with micro cameras snapping pictures of secret documents. Now it is a bunch of people sitting in a room hacking other nations computer systems. Just the natural progression of “Spying”.

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