Tag Archives: Terrorism

More Unquestionable, Irreversible, Irreparable Harm – Is There Anyone Left to Defend the NSA?

Oh, the NSA. My most hated government agency, always tied right with the DEA and TSA. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked their documents last year, I’ve felt pretty justified in my hatred. While they’ve still had their defenders, I feel like lately they’ve taken a page from OCT and worked hard to alienate everyone who could agree with them.

Now the Washington Post has published the results of a 4 month investigation into the NSA. Absolutely nothing in it is shocking; everything in it is disgusting. “But wait!” you say. “The NSA protects us from terrorists! And if you don’t have anything to hide, why do you care?” Well, here are some highlights.

Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.

That means pictures of your children. Pictures of your lake days. That picture you took alone in your room for your significant other. Pictures targeted for certain people, not for the world. We cry out when our children’s photos are taken in public by strangers, parents champion not having pictures of their kids on social media — so why not care that everyone is seeing your toddler in the bathtub? Oh, but what’s that? You’re an American, so this doesn’t apply to you?

If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.

Oh. Well. That sucks. Damn globalization.

So…why are we not more upset by this? I’m sitting here watching the news (CNN and Fox!) and no one is talking about it. The NSA is, really, a bunch of criminals. Your right to privacy is your most important right – it goes beyond what your state says, beyond a country’s constitution. No one would feel like they were really living if they spent their entire life being monitored and watched.

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Do you think the people who are responsible for passing the legislation allowing this are comfortable being spied on? They aren’t. Glenn Greenwald covers this in his (amazing) book, No Place to Hide:

When the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chair, Dianne Feinstein, insisted that the NSA’s collection of metadata does not constitute surveillance…online protesters demanded that she back up her assertion with action: Would the senator, each month, publish a full list of people she emailed and called, including the length of time they spoke and their physical locations when the call was made?

SPOILER ALERT: The answer was no.

The way I talk in front of a group of strangers is different from the way I talk in front of a group of close friends, which is different from the way I talk when I’m with just my little sister. I’m sure you are all the same way. The best thing you can do to demonstrate how incredibly uncomfortable people can get when they lose their privacy is to walk around recording people. Why do you think we’re so uncomfortable with the idea of Google Glass?

At the point, it’s almost comical. Is there anyone left to defend the NSA? Probably not, but if you think they’re swell, I’d love to hear why.

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Why I Don’t Give a Damn About Bob Bergdahl’s Beard

The second I saw Bob and Jani Bergdahl in the Rose Garden, I knew nothing good was going to come from Bob’s appearance. However, I absolutely did not expect the reaction the nation has had — especially since when CNN began commenting on the news right after the announcement, everything was so positive. So what changed? 

Well, there’s the so-called “pro-Taliban” tweets, including this one:

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Oh, total terrorist sympathizer. Or, you know, just someone who doesn’t support the war we’re having, or the human rights violations by foreign agencies occurring in Afghanistan. Someone who doesn’t support Guantanamo Bay and all of its (not so) grey areas of legality (something I’m sure Mos Def would say is rational). Someone who, as a parent of a captured child, can relate to and feel empathy for the thousands of dead Afghan civilians — and yes, that number includes dead children.

Are these the people you want to agree with? People who act like a POW is a terrorist because after 5 years he can’t remember English? People who think that Afghan children aren’t important? People who criticize the BEARD of the father of a prisoner of war who has spent YEARS worried about and trying to save him? People who think speaking Arabic makes you a terrorist?

Maybe the Bergdahls do hate America. I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to know. But I do know that I have traveled the Middle East, studied Arabic, and I even own a hijab. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the way our nation has handled our policies and wars; and I am even more embarrassed by the American public’s  lack of understanding in the cultures we choose to dominate. I support the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and the release of those that we cannot prove are an actual threat through legal means. Why? Because I believe in the freedoms and ideals that America should represent  — and I don’t think people’s rights to life and liberty are less valid because of the language they speak or the color of their skin.

I’ll be damned if you think I’m anti-American just because I don’t have blind support and patriotism. But just in case you think that, let me leave you with some images that might change your mind when it comes to judging Bob Bergdahl’s tweets and sympathies.

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Yeah. What an asshole, feeling bad for those kids. For feeling a connection to those across the world (for people who are actually interested in following his Twitter, he doesn’t only sympathize with victims in Afghanistan) whose children have been lost to war.