Early in the morning on Friday, September 24, FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota's Twin Cities kicked in the doors of anti-war activists, brandishing guns, spending hours rifling through their homes. The FBI took away computers, photos, notebooks and other personal property. Residents were issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. It was just the latest in the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the U.S., targeting peace organizers as supporters of "foreign terrorist organizations."
This week's mass processing inside (and outside) a Toronto courthouse helped clarify June's Jailapalooza festival during the G20, the largest mass arrest in our history. Of 1,100 detained, all but 227 had the charges dropped or were never charged. Most had no links to burning police cars or battered bank machines. They were picked up while protesting peacefully or looking on.
Why? Police say they wanted to prevent recurrences, after the dramatic events. Some intimate they were embarrassed by criticisms of their earlier inaction, and overreacted. Why had police gone missing at the crucial time? There's been no clear answer. One possibility: to justify the vaulting security costs via shocking images of violence.
While I was visiting my family and friends in Tunisia this summer, I came across a new feeling, or maybe it is an impression -- a feeling or impression that I never encountered before in the country that is proud today to be called the sparkle of the "Arab Spring."
I grew up there in the '80s. I remember seeing in people's eyes the fear of authority, humiliation, loss of dignity, the sorrow of poverty, suspicion, but I didn't see the "fear of terrorism." Even in the darkest hours of the country, during the '80s, when there were violent incidents attributed to Islamist militants, I didn't hear from people around me that they were afraid.
While facilitating a youth workshop recently, I realized that this generation is completely shaped by the events and politics of 9/11. Though few of the youth were able to define terrorism (beyond "blowing things up"), most of them were quick to normalize surveillance, military occupation, online tracking, CCTV cameras, extraordinary rendition, torture, deportations and incarceration.
In the wake of revelations about National Security Agency activities—many of which occur “in the cloud”—this book offers both enlightenment and a critical view. Cloud computing and big data are arguably the most significant forces in information technology today. In clear prose, To the Cloud explores where the cloud originated, what it means, and how important it is for business, government, and citizens. It describes the intense competition among cloud companies like Amazon and Google, the spread of the cloud to government agencies like the controversial NSA, and the astounding growth of entire cloud cities in China.
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
Way back in July 2000, the Wall Street Journal, reporting on revelations and rumors about NSA snooping, offered the following:
"The granddaddy of all bogus fears, though, is Echelon. If you believe some European Union parliamentarians, the United States and Britain operate an international network that monitors virtually all communications, and extracts choice nuggets with powerful computers that recognize key phrases in messages like 'assassination,' 'terrorist attack' or 'industrial secret.'"