This, Edward, is the Real Deal

the_lives_of_othersAnd so fate has decreed that the Edward Snowden asylum saga should shove Venezuela front and center of an international debate on domestic spying just as its government is busy gloating about its own sprawling campaign to snoop on domestic dissidents.

You’d think the juxtaposition would cause just a smidgeon of embarrassment for the boosters of Bolivarian Socialism, but that would be to credit them with a level of self-awareness they haven’t been able to muster in a very long time indeed. (Venezuela, in case anyone doubted, is still trolling you.)

What we’ve seen instead is the genuinely bizarre spectacle of a government gleefully opening its arms to a dissident world famous for blowing the whistle on abuses that don’t actually happen in the place where he denounced them, but do happen routinely in the country ready to welcome him.

Because, let’s get one thing straight: the point of the Big Brother State isn’t that it knows everything. Knowing everything is not an end – it’s a means to an end. That end is political control over the population. It’s in order to crush organized resistance and thereby perpetuate its own power that the Orwellian state spies on its citizens – and it’s the utter lack of restraint with which the state uses information to disrupt the organization of political dissent that lends Orwell’s vision its profound creepiness.

This is the kind of abuse Edward Snowden imagined he was nobly standing against in blowing the whistle on PRISM. Except, of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever of the Obama administration misusing information gleaned from PRISM to harass its opponents and cement its grip on power. Such a scenario is so far off the range of the imaginable nobody, not even Assange, has actually even alleged it.

And what of the country Snowden is seeking refuge in as he dodges the consequences of his brave stand for freedom?

Its government is famously non-challant about illegally recording its political opponents’ electronic communications as a matter of routine. This is something we know not because some Snowdenish whistleblower told us, but because the government itself splashes the tapes all over its official media, usually in prime time and sporadically with added sound effects for impact. Yes, really.

That’s not exactly news. But just in time for Edward Snowden’s arrival, the Maduro administration kicked it up a notch. Last week, Venezuelans witnessed the bizarre spectacle of their Information Minister calling a press conference – a press conference! – to publish an illegally recorded converstation that wasn’t even the product of a “normal” telephone wiretap  but instead came from an honest-to-goodness, Lives of Others-style bug planted inside a private home for the purpose of recording a face-to-face conversation between two dissidents.

This, Edward, is the Real Deal: a proper police state utterly beyond the reach of the law, determined to hang on to its own power whatever it takes, totally dismissive in the political rights of those who oppose it, and so utterly incapable of self-insight that its Foreign Minister was recently heard discussing your case and bragging about his own political spying operation in the same press conference! 

I can’t wait, Edward, for you to get here. Because nothing shines a light of the immense fatuousness of your Freedom Agenda-cum-#FirstWorldProblem like an evening spent watching VTV.

98 thoughts on “This, Edward, is the Real Deal

  1. It’s obvious this Snowden guy is foolish and hypocrite to ask for asylum in a country such as Venezuela.
    On the other hand, what do you mean by this?
    “This is the kind of abuse Edward Snowden imagined he was nobly standing against in blowing the whistle on PRISM. Except, of course, there’s no evidence”
    “Such a scenario is so far off the range of the imaginable nobody has actually even alleged it, not even Snowden.”
    It seems to me you haven’t actually made up your mind about what this guy actually is denouncing.
    Could you clarify what you assume to be Snowden’s real case?
    Can you state whether you think – independent from the Venezuelan violations of human rights – whether the current level of spoofing is just “business as usual”, always done so, and all for our own good? Whether we as Venezuelans should not have an opinion about that, one way or the other?

    • Did he ever asked asylum to Venezuela or was Maduro with his echao’palante attitude sticking his nose where to a party he wasn’t invited who decided to get his minutes of fame trolling around? Because the news said he asked for asylum to a number of countries, we don’t know which ones (or do we?). My guess is that he passed Venezuela.

    • I don’t think so. You are linking things in an extremely fluffy way. One of the issues he is implying is not a Big Brother for political control, Obama wanting to remain in power or the like.

      One of the things he points out is the fact spoofing is done on a more massive scale than ever before and without real check and balances. The only danger you seem to see is that a certain bunch of guys might want to stay in power forever. That might be Venezuelans’ main concern because of our situation but not for others.

      Furthermore, the analysis of the data often does not have anything to do with “war on terror” but is simply spying for commercial purposes, also against partners. This is actually not new, but he provides a couple of details.

      Also, although not clearly stated by Snowden, there are huge conflicts of interests here. The ones doing the spoofing end up being huge contractors who become the place where virtually all directors of NSA/CIA etc go to work after their term. This is happening to an extent never seen before. This is already an issue for other sectors- see Schröder after his term as a chancellor where he helped the Russian gas companies and then becoming one of their key people) but it is completely over the board for security issues.

      Lastly, this is about using our very private data for big data ultimately used by private companies.

      You don’t need a security clearance to see the consequences of Booz Allen Hamilton and such companies using our data. The difference made between data and metadata is also completely bullocks. Very often this metadata can be more valuable and actually show more private matters than the data.

      And those are, I believe, issues, whether Snowden exists or not and independent on whether our own country is ruled by autocrats using tactics of the German communists with a Caribbean clownish style.

  2. Sorry mate, your analysis is totally at flaw, it is the contrary, Venezuela put itself in a position of a rogue country! We all hate government’s Orwellian control but this is not what is at bay here, what is unacceptable here is a U.S. government employee sworn to secrecy, reveling secrets to the world.

    • Well, seriously: the guy has committed a crime in the USA just like the USA committed crimes against other countries by doing said spoofing at that scale. It’s the US’s business to prosecute him and he should, in my opinion, go to the US to face trial and present his case (although he will be isolated probably in a worse manner than Manning has been).
      Still: the guy didn’t really present anything than hundreds of thousands of people without secrecy obligations didn’t know. You just have to search the appropriate open literature to find enough proof of virtually everything he said, with the sole exception of the name of the projects (they could have been called “Juanita” and “Pedrito” for all I care).
      The real thing here is that the media paid more attention to him than to scholars
      saying basically the same thing and printing the same thing over and over again.

    • If you ask me, it is precisely this attitude of assuming the US government is infused with some sort of sacrosanct distillation of moral purity that somehow gives it the asbolute right to spy on its citizens, and to automatically discard any possiblity whatsoever of abusing the information it collects in the process, that brings about a situation in which not a single “serious” country in the world dares stand by someone like Snowden. Sadly, this leaves the road open for clowns like Maduro to take the initiative and exploit the whole thing for their own propagandistic agendas. Your declaration of hating Orwellian government control right before saying that a government employee (which, by the way, Snowden wasn’t) deserves to be thrown in jail for revealing government secrets that clearly threaten the most basic civil liberties quite frankly strikes me as Orwellian as anything I’ve heard in a long, long time…

  3. You might be right about how ironic is it for this guy to seek refuge in Venezuela, but you are overreaching when you imply that the things he’s leaking about aren’t illegal either in the US or outside the US, or that the information being snooped isn’t being used. You don’t have that information.

      • Francisco,
        For one, NSA and GCHQ have been playing along with “you read my citizens’ mails and I read yours” and then the stream of information is so huge and records are so interlinked that basically each one of those organisations ended up scrutinizing their own citizens’ data.

        For another thing: these guys have made a supposed distinction between data and metadata, as if the second one were less private and less subject to privacy issues. Sorry, but that is bullocks and anyone working with big data or data mining in general knows this.

        And Snowden said it all the time: there is no real control over who sees what here
        and it’s hundreds of thousands of employees of said companies. Now, please, don’t come with “ah, but I haven’t heard about this until now, if that were true,like with Smartmatic, I would have known”

        Then: some European countries do require their states to protect their citizens – also from foreign snooping – and apparently Germany and others were not doing so. They were taking the risks and more and more control was being given to the USA (this on itself might not be the US citizens’ business, but it is a very legitimate concern for EU nationals).

        • “”These guys” make the distinction between data and metadata because the US Supreme Court said the latter is not restricted by Fourth Amendment privacy protections. That reasoning may be shaky, especially given technological advances, but any legislator convinced it was “bollocks” was free to sponsor a statute to make such surveillance illegal.

      • Obama always knows nothing, he gets his info from TV news. And your believe system is based on the reporting of the despicably lying NYT Times. Get a grip, Toro.

      • The IRS scandal “fizzled out” according to the NYTimes, which never wanted to acknowledge the scandal to begin with. It hasn’t fizzled out for Rep. Darrel Issa, who continues to demand documents and testimony from IRS officials – some of whom are claiming the protection of the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.

        All of the excuses and explanations offered has fallen:

        It wasn’t “a few rogue employees in Cincinnati”, it was many IRS staff in several locations, including senior IRS officials in Washington.

        It wasn’t just a few incidents; over 100 cases have been reported.

        The audits and other obstructions were not directed indiscriminately at all politically based groups – only a small part was not directed against Tea Party and conservative groups.

        Right now there is debate over which would be worse: the Obama administration abused its executive authority over the IRS to attack political opposition; or IRS staff are partisan Democrats and leftists, and spontaneously abused their personal authority to attack conservatives.

        You’ve documented a mountain of constitutional violations and criminal acts by the chavernment in the succession and election of Maduro. But according to the chavista media and its foreign sympathizers, that scandal has fizzled out. Because they say so, and refuse to report on it. Why are you buying into the same narrative for the U.S.?

      • As the Daily Show has promptly and eloquently put; Nobody is saying that the government broke any laws, just that it is damn weird that they didn’t had to

        • Dude that is the most scary thing on this whole story, even Daniel Ellsberg came out defending this guy fleeing the country. Scary scary.

          • The scariest thing I have found of the whole story is that you found Daniel Ellsberg’s statement scary. I mean: that tops it all! :-p
            Now we will end up in an endless loop of scare

  4. Snowden going to Nicaragua, not to Venezuela, was apparently pre-arranged by the principals in this soap opera. However, Maduro’s public offer (no to be accepted) is part of the propaganda that plays to the extreme left gallery. I believe Maduro cannot afford to take Snowden in. Ortega could, for a fee, of course.

      • Simply because he has been trying, rather desperately, to approach the US lately, Jaua smiling to Kerry in adoring fashion, etc. at the urging of the Cuibans. By taking Snowden in he would be back to square minus 5. Frankly, the guy is a mess.

  5. You are clearly right that Snowden denounced the potential abuse of surveillance only to decide to come to a country where the abuse is real, and used unashamedly by the state to deter its critics. Snowden has made a calculation, that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”, a calculation common to realpolitikk, but regularly disapproved of by political idealists such as himself. He has bought himself a few more years of personal safety by acquiescing in systematic violations of human rights, and agreeing to stay silent about his new allies, the perpetrators.

    • I don’t think Snowden has any chance of staying in Venezuela for more than a few months. He should have listened to his father.

      • I am guessing he’ll end up in Cuba. For public relations reasons, this terminus had to be hidden from his supporters. Then Maduro can say to the US, “He was free to leave, and he left.”

      • Well, I hope Snowden makes a decision soon, at least within a 2,000 Km radius of Caracas, to fit into Eva Golinger’s prediction. (22 hours ago – Eva Golinger: “Tal vez Snowden ya esté en Caracas o cerca.”) She’s quickly becoming another Reinaldo dos Santos. How do I send a divining rod to her Brooklyn apartment?

  6. I know this could be a foolish question considering the outrageous disregard for protocol or decency by the masburro regime & maybe this is already addressed elsewhere but I thought political asylum was reserved for people being oppressed politically in their homeland. Are there no limitations on granting asylum for people who are just plain “on the lam” as is the case with Snowden? Not that I necessarily disagree with what he did, but I have seen no indication that he is being persecuted for his beliefs, nationality, race, etc.

    • You’re right: Venezuelan law says you’re only supposed to extend asylum to people suffering persecution. But Venezuelan law also says you’re not supposed to record people’s private conversations inside their homes and splash them all over state TV! When the rule of law dies, what the law says becomes an afterthought.

      • I had also wondered for about two seconds if the president has the power to grant asylum, and then remembered the regime we are talking about…

      • I’m sorry Francisco, but I don’t remember any of you questioning the morality on the Silva tapes, so these illegal ones made by the government should really be out of the argument. On the other side, SEBIN is actively searching for Leonardo León, El Nacional correspondent in Mérida. As of now he is in the ULA rectorate, not able to leave the building.

        That, in my opinion, is more worrisome than some illegal recording of conversations everyone loves to do nowadays.

          • It was and that was clumsy of him. Did he drop it on the street? You don’t know and you don’t want to speculate, right?

          • I really doubt he consented to the scandal, though. You know, the plastering of the tape all over the media. Even if he made it, it still constitutes illegal use of a recording. Not that I’m saying it hadn’t to be done, don’t get me wrong.

              • Francisco, you can use all word letter words you want, that doesn’t make your argument any better. This guy did not send this record to María Corina Machado or to Henry Falcón. Someone must have broken into his computer and used the record or someone must have caught it while he was transmitting somewhere else…and that *%$!@@& is spying.

              • LOL Claro, and more to it, he had some guy doing spying for Nelson Bocaranda, hacked his emails accounts etc, and that info was hacked and presented to the news by Bocaranda.

              • Kepler and Flick, understand he was hacked his information to show his ILLEGAL activities. Yes it is spy vs. spy. It happens in the fine land of Venezuela. I think that was Quico’s point, it happens here a lot, a lot of examples, we don’t have a lot of evidence from Snowden about what’s happening in there. That was his point.

              • If you consent to being recorded, the recording is admissible as evidence in any court. While it is fun to speculate that it may have been unlawfully seized from Mario Silva, it may also be that G-2 or some other party released it to embarass him. I’ll start to denounce it when someone credibly shows that the tape was seized unlawfully.

  7. Snowden is a traitor, plain and simple. I respect his readiness to place himself in danger for his principles (principles that I happen to agree with). The main reason the US can be an imperial power and still maintain a healthy degree of civil liberties at home is because US citizens are naturally wary of government intrusion and PRISM is an example of that intrusion.

    That being said however, I do not agree with his going to Russia and China. You can bet that intelligence agents from those countries debriefed him upon his arrival and probably found that he couldn’t give them enough info to make it worth their while to give him asylum and strain relations with the US. Had he stayed in the US and taken his punishment like a man (see: Daniel Ellsberg) I would be his biggest fan. However, the fact that he ran makes me think he was motivated by interests/money from an outside agency.

    And then all this brings us to Venezuela. At this point I don’t think Snowden cares where he goes as long as it keeps him out of prison. I don’t think he’s contemplated the irony of traveling to an Orwellian tinpot state to get away from an Orwellian spying apparatus.

    • ElJefe,
      I think we are assuming too much about the motives. Come on: do you think Snowden thought it was feasable that he would be able to hide like Matt Damon in Jason Bourne and assume another identity? And that he would be able to enjoy said wealth? Or do you think he thought it was worth it to sell those secrets so that he could caress gold bars in a Russian village in the middle of nowhere?

      Another thing: guys, this is not simply “state”.
      Former NSA directors Inman and McConell work now for Academi -aka Blackwater- and Booz Allen Hamilton. Former CIA director Woolsey was also working after his job at CIA for Booz Allen Hamilton. Notorious George Tenet? L-1 Identity Solutions (among others).
      These are not the only ones, there are thousands upon thousands. There are hundreds of thousands of “analysts” from these private companies with full access to this data.

      • You have already mentioned these connections in an earlier post. I don’t think anyone is really interested.

            • So: what does that tell you, Syd, about the use of big data, private data, blended interests of corporations and intelligence services?

              The bloke can be a nerd who thought himself an extraterrestrial. Virtually every piece of information he has announced has been discussed earlier and that, as I said, by rather serious scholars. I pretended here the author of a book for which you will find quite some comments on Amazon UK. Virtually the same projects without the names have been discussed in the British Parliament, there have been publications referring to complains from the British telecommunications about the degree of “special requests” they have to submit to.

              Right now the Guardian journalist who most closely colaborated with Snowden is being analysed in all possible ways: that he is gay, that he has a boyfriend in Brazil, that he had debts and so on.

              In this it seems the US is not so different from Russia where people close to Putin started to stir the mud around the life of the members of Pussy Riot and people close to them.

              • The difference is that in Putin’s Russia the state pays people to find dirt on dissidents, and then hands it over to prosecutors who use it to put them in jail.

                People attacking a journalist is on the other hand part of free speech, and goes with the territory. It might be uncomfortable, and we’d prefer it didn’t happen, but there’s no avoiding it.

              • Right. And you are the expert in political science, right? It’s again “left versus right”…sorry, man, but perhaps you should look at your own limitations. Te crees la última Pepsi Cola del mundo pero del tema no sabes un comino.

              • Sorry, that was meant for Francisco Toro, who pretends to have the most insightful
                views on everything but seldom uses actual arguments, just the “oh, I am so superior to you, I won’t bother”…very much the Fernando Peñalver mentality.

                His ethical parameters are increasingly determined by Chavismo…después de todo terminó representando la furia del Cafetal.

        • The Cat, I think others have a different opinion.

          Do you want to know a little bit about BA Systems deals with several of these”state organisations”?

          And do you know how they are expected to keep growing the way they have grown
          for the last 15 years?

          Do you have some working experience with data mining & big data?

          • I don’t understand how the state can or should properly contract out intelligence gathering. It seems to me that the whole notion of ‘state secrets’ is lost. The discussion is welcome for me.

          • Just a last thing:
            black boxes. Do you know how much dosh afore mentioned company is earning with that? And from which state organisations? And where that company also has interests?
            This is all accessible data. Perhaps you could take a look at what Richard J. Aldrich has written and take a look at stuff like this:

            http://www.datamining-conf.org/images/Preliminary_Program_ISA_DM2013.pdf

            Then imagine the big data one deals with is not “just” what Amazon or the ministry of health are processing but a huge chunk of every digital move, record of hundreds of millions of citizens – from their bank accounts to their work emails to their private stuff to what they buy at the supermarket.

            Unfortunately, the discussion here will be “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and “what’s going to happen to Snowden?” and “I so much wish Maduro gets into something embarrassing, I don’t want to think what we as opposition are going to say in the next few weeks and how people outside the USA will think about us”.

            I wish Snowden would go to the US. This is dynamite for both Chavismo and for us.
            And beyond Venezuela, Venezuelans as citizens of the world also need to have an opinion about world matters. This kind of matters affects us more than many think here.

      • I don’t think he thought he could disappear but rather that he would be given asylum in China or Russia. However both of those countries didn’t take him in, probably because sheltering Snowden isn’t worth souring relations with the US in their minds. And as for motivations, I would say he’s mostly ideological in nature although a bit of money never hurt anyone. (Not that I have any idea if he received payment for what he did) As for connections between intelligence heads and private companies, that is the sad state of things. Definitely an odd back-and-forth between the public and private sectors at that level.

  8. Two points:

    1) The US has used surveillance in abusive Orwellian ways against its own citizens in the recent past. See http://www.juancole.com/2011/06/retd-cia-official-alleges-bush-white-house-used-agency-to-get-cole.html, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/opinion/the-cia-and-the-nypd.html?_r=0, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/nyregion/occupy-movement-was-investigated-by-fbi-counterterrorism-agents-records-show.html. Not to mention abuses by Edgar J. Hoover and those revealed by the Church commission. See e.g., http://swampland.time.com/2009/08/27/church-committee-redux/. That a Venezuelan does not understand that absolute, unchecked power will eventually be abused is… rich.

    2) Has Snowden asked for political asylum in Venezuela? Is he trying to get to Venezuela? Of course, there is some irony and hypocrisy if he did. However, I am not sure what Snowden’s options are, particularly since the US government is putting a lot of pressure on the international community to deny him asylum and he is being charged with spionage (clearly an overreach) in the US.

    • Snowden is being charged under the Espionage Act, which says you break the law if you take classified documents you aren’t entitled to, and also if you show them to unauthorized people. It is difficult to understand how anyone could say he is NOT guilty of these things.

  9. Even tough no evidence exist that the obama administration has been using Prism for hegemonic purposes, still it is perfectly possible that his succesor, maybe an american chavez or hitler 2, could find such a power handy in destroying their democracy or conquering the world, maybe its a bit paranoid thought from me, but it’s still too much power to be held unaccountably by one goverment, I see no way in wich they would let that power go now anyways, I think that neither the US goverment nor Snowden and certainly not Venezuela/Cuba/Russia/China/Nicaragua/Bolivia are angelitos in this case, so I really don’t care where Snowden ends up

    • The future potential for abuse is the worry, and why I think these spying programs need a lot more oversight and a serious overhaul. There needs to be a political groundswell along the lines of that which occurred for gay marriage, as it is I think the majority of Americans find such spying programs acceptable.

      I agree with Kepler that it’s sad that Snowden might end up going to Venezuela, it really damages the movement by turning his revelations into a cheap, quickly forgotten propaganda victory.

  10. It probably isn’t realistic to expect a guy who has to share his tent with half the population of the Caracas zoo to feel much sympathy for a northerly neighbor who gets all bent out of shape the moment his camel sticks his nose in his tent.

  11. Snowden looks for asylum in Russia, who ranks # 133 , Nicaragua, ranks # 130, and Venezuela, ranks # 165, of the 178 countries in the International Transparency ranking, what an irony !

  12. Citizens of the USA: your country now has fully militarized police and total information awareness managed by sophisticated AI systems. Soon you’ll have armed drones patrolling the skies, recording life below and ready to carry out targeted strikes.

    In Venezuela, we have an opposition who would let you walk into that dark night. We monitor the opposition closely because they are your and our sworn enemies. They are the agents, willing or unwilling, of those who are busy enslaving you.

    • It would be nice if you used a bit of the monitoring to reduce the murder rate, which has more than tripled since the military are in power in Venezuela.
      Instead, what you are doing is letting the GN murder more innocent people, like what last happened in Falcón. And that DOES NOT have anything to do with Iraq or so.

      • After reading Yoyo’s latest comment I’m really thinking he might just be trolling us for the LULZ. What do drones have to do with domestic killing people for a police state? Why not just use, you know, the police? It’s what every other police state does. The only reason to mention it is because of the amusing connection to the terminator movies.

    • It’s naive to believe the current bunch of squatters in Miraflores aren’t scrambling to catch up with the Americans on this technology. They’ve already built and deployed the drones based on the new Iranian models….for “drug intervention”.

    • It’s not ok to monitor your citizens, USA! But it’s totally fine for us to monitor our dissidents, because you know, logic and stuff. We can be just as invasive and intruding as you can be in homes, telephones and computers, but it’s ok for us to do that because we’re socialists or something like that.

    • “We monitor the opposition closely because they are…our sworn enemies.” Thank God, Yoyo, that there is no Snowden-type surveillance going on in Venezuela. And, Norske, “What do drones have to do with domestic killing people for a police state?” –Why, they communicate to the Uzi-armed Robocops on the ground, of course!

  13. “This is the kind of abuse Edward Snowden imagined he was nobly standing against in blowing the whistle on PRISM. Except, of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever of the Obama administration misusing information gleaned from PRISM to harass its opponents and cement its grip on power.”

    Maybe you don’t get the point, Quico. Here, I shall make it for you.

    PRISM should not have been created, even if all Obama administration, (or any spook for that matter) do, is sit on the data forever. It’s just plain wrong to collect private, personal information on an indiscriminate basis.

    There’s a Courts system in civilized countries that oversees and limits the gathering of information of private citizens, SPECIALLY if they are to be suspected of anything criminal. To limit said collection to suspects of crimes, as determined by Courts, where evidence is to be used in said Courts, to determine if suspects are guilty of a well-defined crime, in an open trial. A program like PRISM is the negation of all those protections.

    The reason is that else, it could be used for terrible purposes. Even without any shame, like our Bolivarian Revolution does.

  14. And so fate has decreed that the Edward Snowden asylum saga should shove CARACAS CHRONICLES front and center of an international debate on US domestic and World spying.

    You’d think the juxtaposition would cause just a smidgeon of embarrassment for the critics of Bolivarian Socialism, but that would be to credit them with a level of self-awareness they haven’t been able to muster in a very long time indeed.

    What we’ve seen instead is the genuinely bizarre spectacle of CARACAS CHRONICLES gleefully closing its arms to a dissident world famous for blowing the whistle on abuses that DO happen in the place where he denounced them.

    • Actually, I think that Snowden should be welcomed by the Opposition in Venezuela, and that he should be free to apply the same standard of libertarian concern to the wiretapping crimes of Sebin and other secret police agencies.

      What we think will happen, though, is that his stay will depend upon him staying silent about what really goes on in his new home. As soon as he tells the truth about THAT, he’ll be sent home.

      So, he has walked into a situation in which his freedom depends upon maintaining the usual double standard of wilful blindness towards the crimes of “progressive” dictatorhips like Venezuela.

      • Zeca Silva needs to graduate the first grade, his argument can be summed up as: “no, YOU’RE a butt face”

  15. Coincidentally, I just watched The Lives of Others. I was surprised to see a picture of the main Stasi agent in the The Lives of Others here on the CC blog- and the link.
    Though not-so-coincidentally, I watched The Lives of Others in response to reading about the NSA snooping scandals. Which is similar to why you posted the picture and link.

  16. Quico,

    You seem to know Edward Snowden pretty well. You know, for example, that he is planning to accept Maduro’s offer, even though as far as I know he hasn’t said anything in public about that and apparently is continuing to seek better offers. Furthermore, you appear to believe you know exactly what he “imagined he was nobly standing against”. So you know his intentions and his imaginings. That makes you intimate buddies, in my book. Of course, a respected journalist and blogger wouldn’t just make things up, right?

    I understand (and generally agree with) your desire to expose and ridicule the Venezuelan’s government’s lack of ethics when it comes to questions of the privacy of its citizens. But, really, making Snowden into a strawman for your disdain is, at best, a low blow. Also, you must surely have noticed that, given his political history, it is quite possible that Snowden agrees with you about many things, probably more than he agrees with Maduro.

    Aside from any ethical doubts he must have, it seems to me that if the Maduro regime is as close to collapse as the opposition hopes, then Snowden would be ill-advised to accept the Venezuelan offer; despite any sympathies he might have for the opposition, he must know the risk of being turned into a political circus.

    • Granted, #Snowden here serves as a kind of stand-in for “the general tenor of leftie first-world opinion that thinks the guy is taking a heroic stance against an oppressive police state”…I guess it’s not the guy’s fault he’s become the poster boy for a whole section of first world cluelessness I really can’t abide.

      • Right, it’s not fair. How big do you think that segment of the “leftie first-world” is? And, if you think it is really dominant, have you reflected on the fact that your distaste for it might be exaggerating your estimate? For what it’s worth, I have a similar visceral response to the Jaime Baylys of the world, but I know that most people who oppose Chávez are rational, thoughtful people who respect the truth. I refuse to watch Bayly, but I don’t hold him against Capriles. Or against you, for that matter.

        Why don’t you try listening to the interview with Guardian interview with Snowden (part 1 here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance) with a somewhat open mind and see how much of what he says you find you can agree with? (I haven’t done that myself because the Peruvian internet isn’t cooperating with Guardian streaming. Probably you will have fewer problems in Montreal. But what I did manage to watch was remarkably un-wild-eyed.)

        For me, the jury is still out on Snowden. In some ways, he strikes me as a typical high-tech libertarian, a species which I’ve come to know rather better than I would have liked, but in his defence, he’s not all talk; he’s actually trying to do something coherent with his ideals, even at a non-trivial personal risk.

      • You seem to have fallen off the wagon, Mr. T. A week or two ago you reiterated that this is a blog about Venezuela and admitted that as far as first-world matters are concerned you’re just another guy with his share of opinions. Part of the reason that “This, Edward, is the Real Deal” is a terrific post is that it’s about Venezuela, about which you know a lot. You might be surprised to learn that some of your biggest fans are people you would probably dismiss as clueless first-world lefties.

  17. Francisco, my last comment has been awaiting moderation for a while now. In the comment, I provide several links showing evidence of recent abuse of surveillance powers by the US government. I think the comment is relevant given your premise about what Snowden revealed.

  18. Well it is ok all the whistling blower thing, and I agree with all the data that is used for business spying…However, no one asked if really Snowden did the whistling Blower because of principles? I doubt it, why he did flee the country with data to China or Russia? he was expecting $$$$$$ and live as an expat. That is the pure simple truth ( or piensa mal y acertaras) The problem he did not know how Chinese and Russian works…money first…and we don’t give a damn about you…He could have done a whistling blowing from the states, and face the consequences that is CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE…
    I like this: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46979745/#52350212
    As a friend of mine said, This guy is extremely narcissist, and that is the way he is conducting himself with no knowledge in how he was going to use his bargain chips. He is a moron… Now he could enjoy giving his name address and id number evn to buy bread in the market!

    Ad ok very cute about not surveillance on citizens, However, in the USA how many people has and suscribe to those little saving cards for the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc,etc,etc…good grieve your information is everywhere!

    • Lili,

      I have worked with data mining for over a decade now.

      I think there is a teeny tiny difference between what anyone can do by processing your records on Wallmart or Drugs’ purchases and the full information of your email traffic, your credit card transactions, your Internet behaviour in general, your travels around the globe, your conversations over Skype, your Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter activity and so on -not only of you but of hundreds of millions of people at real time. You might be just “another brick on the wall” and you might not care. At that level they are only using you as yet a 1 fraction of a billionth entity to train their data. But even that is useful data – as a reference for others that might be more “relevant” on a commercial, political or security scale. And they are using your data.

      Data miners need training data and yours is wonderful even if you are another tiny bit.
      If one started to have less and less reference data, one would be in trouble.

      And here these organisations are using the data of other people who are a “bigger” brick on the wall and are not dangerous at all – just very profitable for certain interests.

      On top of that and this is one of the most crucial things and something no one here seems to be noticing – this is a system that needs to keep growing. The decision takers at government level will become the board of directors of those companies and this is happening as it wasn’t happening a couple of decades earlier, not like this.
      And we are talking about companies that are dealing with stuff going from drones and air planes, tanks and missiles to analytics software. They are setting more and more the criteria for when we are under threat.

      There is a nice little article on The Guardian on metadata:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/07/nsa-gchq-metadata-reassurances

      They have only scratched the surface of the issue there.

      And hardly anyone is talking about the commercial value one can derive from there to tackle the US/German/British/French markets…using your or my most private data.
      Even if one didn’t have a single item to hide: it sucks.

      Finally: I think Snowden has a big big ego and he didn’t think much of the consequences, but I doubt he was in for money.

      1) he went public from the start
      2) he knew no one, no one can live a normal life in Moscow, in Murmansk or in Ufa after having done this, not even if there had been the very unlikely case that Putin would have decided to protect him and use the data “secretly”.
      Do you think he was dreaming of driving a BMW with Natasha, Julija and Ol’ga
      through Moscow’s poshest areas after this? That he was thinking to live a quite life
      in a mandarin palace in Shanghai?
      I don’t know.

      • I know what you mean…but you said it snowden a narcissist, in the last 3 minutes of the video, is like his importance was over anything… And Yes i know about data…I like it…of course you could do good things and bad things, and mainly things that would have some profit to few…( lately I’m cynical) But I cannot blame a country and its National interest…that they have agency problems later…part of the corporate governance problem and one of the issues that Andrew Bacevich like to point out about How The US is losing it…( I tend to agree with him), And there is a thing you know about the surveillance but you are willing to give other countries data that could be in detriment on your own? that is when it is not that clear…Maybe he talk to amateurs that really give him poor advice

  19. Latest on Snowden: He’s trying to decide between: Hawaian acrobatic pole-dancer girl friend (“lost at sea without a compass”), near Honolulu Federal Detentian Facility; Russian former high-wire artist Ana Chapman (have citizenship, will marry), in a spartan Moscovy pre-War apartment; Colombo-Venezuelan bird-talking Maduro (safe as long as you can produce the cash), in a high-tech state-of-the-art sound-engineered Caracas apartment; or Bolivian Evo/Nicaraguan Ortega (all that you can chew/snort), safe as long as Venezuela keeps paying. Tough decision that, but it seems Russia won’t let him continue re-creating Tom Hanks’ “Terminal”for much longer.

  20. Apparently Snowden has said yes to Venezuela. Let the circus begin. Pan y circo compadre. Meanwhile, por estas calles la compasión ya no aparece.

    • Not yet a done deal. Ana Chapman’s Dance of the Seven Veils has a hold on Snowden. Last night, after dinner of blinis and candlelight, she showed him “Dr. Zhivago”. Snowden was charmed. They’re now bargaining for comfier digs in Moscow, and a dacha in the countryside. Irritated Pushkov, who just wants to get rid of this pimple on Russia’s *gleaming* reputation in exterior relations, withdrew his prematurely written tweet, announcing that Snowden had said “Da!” to Ma-duro.

  21. I really want to see the expression on his face when he gets to Venezuela and realizes, “Oh, shit! I have made a terrible mistake.”

    • Like a gringo Chavista friend of mine did, lost his cushy teaching English job paid in $ while touristing the revolution, and in the end, pelo mas b**** que un naufrago… he came to the USA reformed with not a lot of nice things to say about Chavez, he kept his mickey mouse Chavez watch tho, as a souvernir.

  22. Maduro has puffed himself up as a strong man, surrounded by the military, before publicly declaring that the country has decided to give political asylum to Snowden. Not that the latter has made a decision yet. But one wonders whether Maduro has actually paid Snowden to come.

    (Alberto Ravell ‏@AlbertoRavell
    Muy pronto hasta los espias en Venezuela van a ser importados.)

    Reason? Maduro’s pissed. Colombia extradites Daniel El Loco Barrera to the US, where he’ll sing like a canary on Vz intelligence.

    (Casto Ocando ‏@cocando
    Extraditan a USA al narco Daniel El Loco Barrera, detenido en 2012 en Venezuela, y que conoce muchos secretos a la inteligencia venezolana.)

    Wouldn’t surprise me, knowing that

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