Techdirt Podcast Episode 12: Former CIA Employee Barry Eisler Explains Why You Shouldn't Trust The CIA

from the watching-you-watching-me dept

If you checked out last week’s episode, you know that Barry Eisler is a bestselling author with a lot to say about the publishing industry. What you might not know is that he also used to work for the CIA, and he’s got a lot to say about that world as well. This week, Barry is back to talk about the culture and inner workings of the intelligence community.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 12: Former CIA Employee Barry Eisler Explains Why You Shouldn't Trust The CIA”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Never trust government

They work for the government. IT cannot be trusted.

No greater threat to mankind exists than that of government. More people have died at the hand of their own nation than all wars.

IT cannot be trusted, yet it is necessary. The founders of the USA knew these things and today we regularly spit and sneer at their wisdom and foresight, calling then archaic and old.

The same tricks our government does to fool the people are the same tricks tried throughout the ages. We just change the names because people really are just that easy to keep fooling.

If you hear… “You can fool some people some of the time, but not most of the people most of the time!”… then you have just hear a fool.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is an understatement to say you can’t trust the NSA. The public has already had example after example of the NSA lying, word twisting, and doing any sort of fancy foot work to duck ownership and responsibility.

It’s like putting a cookie jar in front of a kid and telling him stay out of it. It will work until your back is turned.

Dan G Difino says:

Re: Counter-intuitivity

And what the fuck is going on with these major global news channels picking fights around the world? Like the war they are apparently trying to start with North Korea over human rights violations.. gotta laugh at that. They want to start these wars and send your kids off to fight them. Those complete idiots. Come over to my house, I will unscrew your heads and put them back on straight. IDIOTS

bshock says:

Can we talk?

Hi Mike.

Thanks for the podcast. It was very fun, enjoyable, and engaging.

What I’m wondering about, though, is your strategy behind pussyfooting around about the U.S.-led surveillance state.

You seem like a very pleasant, decent person, and so maybe you just assume that most other people are pleasant and decent also.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s unconstructive to point fingers and make dire accusations against the authorities, regardless of how obvious and well-founded those dire accusations might be. After all, if you play nice, maybe they won’t feel backed into a corner.

Or are you just concerned about sounding like a nut case? I was a little worried during the podcast when you brought out the “tinfoil hat” crack about the sort of thing that seems tepid and uncontroversial to me and numerous other people. I know there are those online who have labeled the Techdirt site as a sort of technological yellow journalism, so maybe you’re just trying to appease and fit in?

I don’t claim to know the truth about anything, but I work hard to accumulate as much information as I can. Even taking into account that the damning pieces of information tend to stick out and perhaps overwhelm everything else, there are a few things that seem clear:

1) The U.S. is no longer either a democracy or a republic, if it ever was. Political candidates in this country are chosen by a very small, very wealthy segment of the population. Best case scenario in this next presidential election is that the average folk like you and me will have a choice between a conservative woman who follows the will of the wealthy or an ultra-conservative man who follows the will of the wealthy (though not necessarily the exact same group of the wealthy).

2) There are at least three tiers of citizens in the U.S., each subject to a different form of law. The wealthy citizens and large corporate entities form the top tier, and can do pretty much whatever they want without significant consequence. You and I form the next tier, the vast majority of obedient serfs who follow traffic laws and respect property and that sort of thing; if we ever get into trouble, real or imaginary, the legal system becomes one big crap shoot with our lives and prosperity on the table. The final and lowest tier of the law is for those the government and their wealthy patrons don’t like. Right now the popular name for this sort of person is “terrorist,” but it’s very clear that the word has been diluted to mean David Miranda (as you pointed out) or Edward Snowden, who are simply individuals that various governments find irritating. So the upper tier is above the law, the middle tier is mired in the law, and the bottom tier is below the law.

3) The growth of the surveillance state has nothing more to do with terrorism than copyright enforcement has to do with helping starving artists put bread on the table. You acknowledged that there’s a financial and political incentive for promulgating fear. It’s all about maintaining the status quo and building fortunes. Beyond that, is it so difficult to believe that the wealthy — who quite literally and demonstrably own most of this country — have a stake in destroying privacy? Is it so difficult to believe that they see both an opportunity to control their money/power base and a need to weed out the troublesome elements that might present some threat to them, however small?

The social trends show the United States gradually turning into some sort of neo-feudal kingdom, with a handful of wealthy lords imposing iron-fisted rule over huge numbers of impoverished peasants. Sure, they’re far more polished and subtle about it than then were a thousand years ago. They give their human cattle plenty of safe entertainment and comfort to keep them docile, and bathe them in the brilliant propaganda of marketing campaigns designed to herd everyone in the desired direction. But in the end, does it matter if our oligarchs are good people or bad people?

Sooner or later they all come to see us as their cattle. They drive us, they milk us, and when it becomes convenient, they slaughter us for their profits. When we’re each finally at the top of the slaughterhouse chute and the sledge hammer starts to smash down on our poor bovine skulls, will any of us take a moment to wonder if the comforting lies and velvet-covered prods of our corporate owners really made it all worth the messy results?

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