I’m going out on a limb to predict that George Will’s attempt to man-splain his recent column on sexual abuse and rape, in which he claimed women report rapes so they can be afforded the “coveted status” of “privileged” victimhood, isn’t going to win anyone over to his weird, heartless argument.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen weighed in today on racism in the Republican Party; he says the GOP is definitely not racist. Just “deeply troubled.” It’s perfectly natural in his view to need to “suppress a gag reflex” when one sees a biracial couple.
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
If you feel the need to vomit when you see a white man married to a black woman… yes, that’s racist. In fact, that’s pretty much the archetypal example of racism, and why the hell are we even debating it? It’s difficult not to suspect that Cohen is projecting his own feelings onto “people with conventional views.”
And we should note that Cohen sounds amazingly like far right racist blogger Robert Stacy McCain, who infamously wrote:
The media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.
Now we’ve done it. Richard Cohen’s feelings are hurt.
“I didn’t write one line, I wrote a column,” he told the Huffington Post in an interview. ”The column is about Tea Party extremism and I was not expressing my views, I was expressing the views of what I think some people in the Tea Party held.”
“The word racist is truly hurtful,” he added. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”
Cohen explained that he didn’t think the entire Tea Party held such views.
“I don’t think everybody in the Tea Party is like that, because I know there are blacks in the Tea Party,” he said. “So they’re not all racist, unless I’m going to start doing mind reading about why those black people are there.”
Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post editorial page editor, also defended the column Tuesday, but said that he could have edited it “more carefully.”
Only someone who believes the US should not be allowed to have any secrets at all could justify this latest release from Edward Snowden: ‘Black Budget’ Summary Details U.S. Spy Network’s Successes, Failures and Objectives.
How is it “whistle-blowing” to publish a document like this? What wrong-doing is being exposed?
We’re getting down to the real basics now — the battle between those who believe the US government has legitimate reasons to keep some intelligence secret, and those who simply want to blow it all up.
I can’t see this as anything other than pure destructive nihilism.
Here’s a good piece on the NSA internal audit published by the Washington Post and what it really shows us, by Benjamin Wittes: NSA Spying Defense: The Case the Administration Isn’t Making.
Wittes actually makes many of the same points about the document that I have previously:
In these two posts I argued that the NSA Oversight & Compliance document actually shows the opposite of the overheated Washington Post portrayal — it contains no evidence whatsoever of deliberate wrongdoing, only errors.
The most common incidents reported were “roaming” cases in which a valid foreign target uses a foreign cell phone while inside the US. The next most common incidents were simple typos by analysts entering database queries with fallible human fingers. The remaining incidents are mostly errors of one kind or another. But there is not a single case in the report of deliberate malicious activity.
Let’s start with the audit report that supposedly shows thousands of violations of privacy rules and legal breaches. To be clear, not one of these 2,776 “incidents” (over a year at the NSA’s headquarters) involves a decision by any NSA employee to engage in illegal surveillance against an American. They are nearly all inadvertent mistakes of a technical nature—the majority of a few discrete types (See pp. 5-6). The bulk are “roamers,” which take place when a valid foreign intelligence target happens to cross into the United States. The IG report notes that “Roamer incidents are largely unpreventable, even with good target awareness and traffic review, since target travel activities are often unannounced and not easily predicted” (emphasis added).
There are also a fair number of database query errors—that is, typos, confusions of boolean terms like “and” and “or,” syntax errors, and the like. You know … mistakes. These mistakes are caught through a combination of automated checking, auditing, and self-reporting. In other words, the fewer than 3,000 incidents reported over the year in question involve the NSA’s own systems—and people—catching and correcting technical errors.
Even the section entitled “Significant Incidents of Non-compliance” (pp. 11-13) does not detail anything like any intentional violation of the privacy rights of Americans. One incident involved the retention of FISA business records material longer than the permitted five years. Another involved an incident in which collection continued against an individual after indications had arisen suggesting he had a green card; this stopped when a senior linguist figured out that those indications had been received and not noticed.
In other words, what this document shows is that among the billions and billions of communications the NSA interacts with every year, it has certain low rate of technical errors, many of them unavoidable, which it dutifully records and counts.
Wittes criticizes the Obama administration for failing to make these same points, and I agree. It’s a wasted opportunity to turn a negatively slanted article into a teaching moment.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has released the following Statement on NSA Compliance, in response to the Washington Post’s leaked internal NSA audit.
“By law, the Intelligence Committee receives roughly a dozen reports every year on FISA activities, which include information about compliance issues. Some of these reports provide independent analysis by the offices of the inspectors general in the intelligence community. The committee does not receive the same number of official reports on other NSA surveillance activities directed abroad that are conducted pursuant to legal authorities outside of FISA (specifically Executive Order 12333), but I intend to add to the committee’s focus on those activities.
“The committee has been notified—and has held briefings and hearings—in cases where there have been significant FISA compliance issues. In all such cases, the incidents have been addressed by ending or adapting the activity.
“The large majority of NSA’s so-called ‘compliance incidents’ are called ‘roaming’ incidents, in which the NSA is collecting the phone or electronic communications of a non-American outside the United States, and that person then enters the United States. The NSA generally won’t know that the person has traveled to the United States. As the laws and rules governing NSA surveillance require different procedures once someone enters the U.S.—generally to require a specific FISA court order—NSA will cite this as a ‘compliance incident,’ and either cease the surveillance or obtain the required FISA court order. The majority of these ‘compliance incidents’ are, therefore, unintentional and do not involve any inappropriate surveillance of Americans.
“As I have said previously, the committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes.
“I believe, however, that the committee can and should do more to independently verify that NSA’s operations are appropriate, and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate. This should include more routine trips to NSA by committee staff and committee hearings at which all compliance issues can be fully discussed.”
The document leaked by Edward Snowden and published by the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman supports this claim; read it for yourself below. I’ve gone through it twice now, and there’s no evidence in here of deliberate malicious activity on the NSA’s part, or on any NSA analyst’s part.
As Feinstein said, most of the incidents reported are “roaming” incidents. The second most likely cause of an incident report is human error when entering database queries. (Typos, anyone?)
There are other causes listed — mostly errors of one kind or another — and some cases in which information was inappropriately collected and/or stored, but not a single case in which any person is implicated in intentional abuse.
And another interesting note in the document: there are comprehensive automatic reporting systems in place, that caught the majority of these incidents.
The Washington Post’s new article on the NSA uncovered “unauthorized use of data” of 3000 US citizens. That’s about 0.0009% of the population, but you wouldn’t know from the headline: NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times Per Year, Audit Finds.
Wow, sounds bad. So what courageous whistleblower found these violations and took action to stop them?
Well, that would be the NSA themselves. The source is an internal audit.
The NSA audit obtained by The Post, dated May 2012, counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure. The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.
In a statement in response to questions for this article, the NSA said it attempts to identify problems “at the earliest possible moment, implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down.” The government was made aware of The Post’s intention to publish the documents that accompany this article online.
“We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line,” a senior NSA official said in an interview, speaking with White House permission on the condition of anonymity.
What this really shows: the NSA’s layers of oversight, and regulatory limitations, and the way the NSA complies with them — but no actual intentional wrongdoing, which has been a common thread throughout this story. This is evidence of due diligence, not wrongdoing.
Here’s a very good point that I missed on first read through the NSA document:
So the actual number of US citizens involved in these incidents is much, much lower than it appears from the Washington Post’s hyperbolic headline and article.
The New York Times posts a correction, showing once again that reports of the NSA collecting the “content” of phone calls were simply wrong:
Correction: August 16, 2013
An earlier version of this article inaccurately portrayed an incident in 2008 involving a mix-up of the area code of Washington, D.C., 202, and the international dialing code of Egypt, 20. While the Washington Post initially described this incident as involving the “interception” of calls placed from Washington, the Post later explained that it involved the collection of “metadata” logs about the calls. It is not the case that the N.S.A. recorded the contents of the calls.
There is no correction or update about this posted at the Washington Post. Transparency!
Patrick Pexton was ombudsman of the Washington Post until March 2013, and he has some advice for new owner Jeff Bezos:
- Grow a thick skin.
- Remember that you’re selling news.
- Get to know your audience.
- Fire the hell out of right wing shill Jennifer Rubin.
Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad. She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.
And she is often wrong, and rarely acknowledges it. She was oh-so-wrong about Mitt Romney, week after week writing embarrassing flattery about his 2012 campaign, calling almost every move he made brilliant, and guaranteeing that he would trounce Barack Obama. When he lost, the next day she savaged him and his campaign with treachery, saying he was the worst candidate with the worst staff, ever. She was wrong about the Norway shootings being acts of al-Qaida. She was wrong about Chuck Hagel being an anti-Semite. And does she apologize? Nope.
Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman, and I’m leaving out the organized email campaigns against her by leftie groups like Media Matters. Thinking conservatives didn’t like her, thinking moderates didn’t like her, government workers who knew her arguments to be unfair didn’t like her. Dump her like a dull tome on the Amazon Bargain Books page.
“hahahahahhahaha” - that’s a direct quote
Breitbart propagandist Ben Shapiro has uncovered another BOMBSHELL BREAKING STORY today — the conspiracy between President Obama and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to oppress him: OBAMA VISITED AMAZON 6 DAYS BEFORE FOUNDER BOUGHT WAPO!
While conservatives and liberals consider the political leanings of Washington Post buyer and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in an attempt to divine how his politics will affect those of the historic institution, the truth appears to be far simpler: the Post is now Bezos’ latest political tool in a crony capitalist effort to work with the Obama administration. How else to explain President Obama puzzling decision last week to roll out his corporate tax plan at an amazon.com fulfillment center?
The sale of the Post was supposed to be top-secret, with staffers asked not to tweet about it for ten minutes. But it’s more than possible that the Obama administration had some advance notice about the sale, and that Obama appeared at the Amazon warehouse as a sign of good faith to Bezos prior to the move.
MORE THAN POSSIBLE! That sounds dire. Thank Jeebus we have true patriots like Ben Shapiro to keep us abreast of these diabolical plots.
Meanwhile, here’s something that makes a lot more sense than Shapiro’s hate-addled ramblings: the Taiwanese Animators version of the Bezos-Washington Post story.
Jennifer Rubin Whitesplains: There Is No Racism, and Obama Is ‘Not a Good Person’ for Talking About It
Here’s the Washington Post’s resident right wing propagandist Jennifer Rubin, white-splaining that there’s no racism in America, and calling President Obama “the absolute worst.”
According to Rubin, racism effectively ended with the repeal of Jim Crow laws and no one experiences racism these days, except for Obama who seeks to use race “as a crutch or a method of stirring up his base.”
She says Obama isn’t letting people “get out of this racial archaeology” so they are “held prisoners forever in a past that most Americans have never personally experienced.”
Rubin explained that Obama’s recent remarks on race prove that he is “the absolute worst.”
“I do not think that this man is a good person,” Rubin said. “He wants to incite people and to rally people for political ends; that is not a good person.”
The new military leaders of Egypt are denying they staged a “military coup,” because if whatever happened there is classified as a coup, US aid to Egypt must be cut off. And it’s a good bet the leaders of the *cough* don’t want that to happen, since all those impressive jet fighters they’ve been flying over Cairo were paid for by that aid.
The Washington Post makes it clear where they stand: US Must Suspend Aid.
THERE IS no ambiguity about what happened in Egypt on Wednesday: a military coup against a democratically elected government and the wrong response to the country’s problems. The armed forces forcibly removed and arrested President Mohamad Morsi, who won 51 percent of the vote in a free and fair election little more than a year ago. A constitution ratified by a two-thirds majority in another popular vote last December was suspended; dozens of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested and a number of media outlets shut down. A little-known judge appointed as president and granted the power to rule by decree will be entirely dependent on the armed forces for his authority.
Having not spoken up against the excesses of Mr. Morsi’s government, the Obama administration has, with equal fecklessness, failed to forthrightly oppose the military intervention. But there should be no question that under a law passed by Congress, U.S. aid to Egypt — including the $1.3 billion annual grant to the military — must be suspended.
It’s a nasty, tangled situation all right, and yes, the Muslim Brotherhood was voted into power by a majority. But since that election they’ve been taking major steps that have nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with turning Egypt into an authoritarian Islamic state. One of the big reasons Egyptian secularists rose up against the Morsi government in such gigantic numbers was because they saw their democratic freedoms eroding before their eyes, and feared that the “free and fair election” described by the Post would also turn out to be the last free election.