Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – I want to take you now to the Guardian UK, the American online edition, Glenn Greenwald writing Friday, “Email service used by Edward Snowden shuts itself down, warns against using US-based companies.” The reputation of the United States continues to sink around the world, and that’s not my doing and it’s not Ron Paul’s doing, it’s not Lew Rockwell’s doing, and it’s not anyone that is a “libertarian” or Rand Paul or Jack Hunter’s doing. That’s the doing of the government. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I want to take you now to the Guardian UK, the American online edition, Glenn Greenwald writing Friday, “Email service used by Edward Snowden shuts itself down, warns against using US-based companies.” The reputation of the United States continues to sink around the world, and that’s not my doing and it’s not Ron Paul’s doing, it’s not Lew Rockwell’s doing, and it’s not anyone that is a “libertarian” or Rand Paul or Jack Hunter’s doing. That’s the doing of the government. This is their doing. They’re the ones that are violating people’s civil liberties. They’re the ones that are thumbing their nose at the Constitution’s protections. Hell, even the spirit of the Constitution they just thumb their nose at it and disregard it as if it’s some kind of impediment to what they want to do. [mocking] “We’ve got a job to do here and you idiots are standing in the way.” You have a job because why? Because we have a constitution that organizes this thing called the general government. That’s why you have a job. The only reason and the only binding part of your “job” is that Constitution.
People just, I don’t know why they don’t understand this. The federal government is not a self-made entity. It did not create itself. Good grief, people, get this through your freaking heads. It was created by people to do things like secure civil liberties. It was ratified by conventions of the people. It wasn’t ratified by state legislatures. It was ratified by conventions. Anyone could have been nominated and could have been elected to go to any of those conventions. As a matter of fact, they were some of the most heavily-attended public events of the day, if not the most heavily-attended public events of the day. People ratified that constitution because they believed it was in their interest. They didn’t believe it was in the interest of some agency that said they had some job to do or had been charged with some task and they were going to be the determinate and they were going to define the extent of their own powers. That’s not why it was ratified. It was ratified so that the exact opposite could happen or should have happened. It would be a government that would be very limited in powers and it would always be under the civilians’ control. You would never have an aristocracy. We’d have no religious test for the election of officers. It would always be responsive to the people that it was supposed to govern. Of course, when the people become corrupt, you get corrupt government.
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Yes, this is at least partly our fault. Please do not misunderstand. That still doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it constitutional, and it doesn’t make it morally sound. I want to share a story with you. Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK as I just said. I’m going to jump around here. It’s a really lengthy essay, so I’m going to pick and choose the parts I’d like to share with you. It’s posted in today’s Pile of Prep if you’d like to read it, today’s Pile of Prep appearing under the style of “Just Another Manic NSA Panic Monday.”
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CNET’s Declan McCullagh smartly speculates that Lavabit [Mike: This is the company that used to exist that was Edward Snowden’s email provider.] was served “with [a] federal court order to intercept users’ passwords” to allow ongoing monitoring of emails; specifically: “the order can also be to install FedGov-created malware.” After challenging the order in district court and losing – all in a secret court proceeding, naturally – Lavabit shut itself down to avoid compliance while it appeals to the Fourth Circuit.
This morning, Silent Circle, a US-based secure online communication service, followed suit by shutting its own encrypted email service. Although it said it had not yet been served with any court order, the company, in a statement by its founder, internet security guru Phil Zimmerman, said: “We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now.”
Mike: Isn’t that great? The American government, the federal government of the United States, talk about an economic boom. Just imagine what this does for the economy. I guess there were probably people that were employed at these places. Not anymore. So the government tasked with an d created to secure the civil liberties of its citizens is now tyrannizing its citizens and causing them to say: If I have to do business with this entity that I loathe and I don’t trust — I loathe it because I don’t trust it. It has not demonstrated that it recognizes any boundaries on its powers other than formalities that it engages in like the FISA court, rather than betray what it was we started the business to do and to have to compromise that, I would rather close it down. These people acted with integrity. How many of you out there will say, [mocking] “If they don’t have anything to hide, what do they have to lose?” I can’t wait to hear the hawk crowd on this one.
What is particularly creepy about the Lavabit self-shutdown is that the company is gagged by law even from discussing the legal challenges it has mounted and the court proceeding it has engaged. In other words, the American owner of the company believes his Constitutional rights and those of his customers are being violated by the US Government, but he is not allowed to talk about it. [Mike: Of course, nothing to see here, citizen, move along.] Just as is true for people who receive National Security Letters under the Patriot Act, Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:
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“I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. [Mike: Again, Congress can’t do that. They can amend the First Amendment if they want, and the states can either choose to or not choose to ratify that amendment, but they can’t alter it.] Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”
Does that sound like a message coming from a citizen of a healthy and free country? Secret courts issuing secret rulings invariably in favor of the US government that those most affected are barred by law from discussing? Is there anyone incapable at this point of seeing what the United States has become? Here’s the very sound advice issued by Lavabit’s founder:
“This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”
As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in a great Bloomberg column last week, this is one of the key aspects of the NSA disclosures: the vast public-private surveillance partnership.
Mike: I told you about this. We’ve been talking about this for over a year now, since we first learned of these things. None of this can work if corporate America, which is in on the corporatism that’s happening, none of this can happen if corporate America doesn’t go along with it. If Facebook and Google and whoever else or Yahoo, Microsoft, if they say: No, take me to court. Try to make me to do that. Let’s have a very public trial. You try to make me fork over everything that’s on my servers to you. Let’s see who wins in court. At the least you get a delay in this action. Instead, those companies sheepishly say: Well, we believe it’s in our interest to comply. We’ve notified our customers.
Snowden, who told me today that he found Lavabit’s stand “inspiring”, added: [Mike: If Snowden told you, Glenn, and if Lavabit shut down, I’m assuming this is an email communication, meaning you might as well go ahead and post the whole letter because the NSA is reading it as well.]
“Ladar Levison and his team suspended the operations of their 10 year old business rather than violate the Constitutional rights of their roughly 400,000 users. The President, Congress, and the Courts have forgotten that the costs of bad policy are always borne by ordinary citizens, and it is our job to remind them that there are limits to what we will pay.
“America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful. Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren’t fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not.”
The growing (and accurate) perception that most US-based companies are not to be trusted with the privacy of electronic communications poses a real threat to those companies’ financial interests. A report issued this week by the Technology and Innovation Foundation estimated that the US cloud computing industry, by itself, could lose between $21 billion to $35 billion due to reporting about the industry’s ties to the NSA. [Mike: Listen to this. Not bad enough you’ve got a black eye here. The entire planet is now watching this in shock and awe.] It also notes that other nations’ officials have been issuing the same kind of warnings to their citizens about US-based companies as the one issued by Lavabit yesterday:
“And after the recent PRISM leaks, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich declared publicly, ‘whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers.’ Similarly, Jörg-Uwe Hahn, a German Justice Minister, called for a boycott of US companies.”
The US-based internet industry knows that the recent transparency brought to the NSA is a threat to their business interests. [Mike: If they know this, why aren’t they doing something about it?]
It’s well past time to think about what all this reflects about the US. As the New York Times Editorial Page put it today, referencing a front-page report from Charlie Savage enabled by NSA documents we published: “Apparently no espionage tool that Congress gives the National Security Agency is big enough or intrusive enough to satisfy the agency’s inexhaustible appetite for delving into the communications of Americans.” The NYT added:
“Time and again, the NSA has pushed past the limits that lawmakers thought they had imposed to prevent it from invading basic privacy, as guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Mike: Folks, we have a situation here that is devolving as it evolves. The more you learn about this, the more we learn about it, the more sinister the subterfuge becomes — here’s another thing to think about — and the more complicit your member of Congress becomes in this. It is inexcusable. It’s unthinkable to me that a member of the United States Congress has known about this — some claim [mocking] “All this stuff, Congress was briefed on all of it.” Really? You mean members of Congress knew and know this is going on and they’re not doing anything about it? So any member of Congress that is not alerting the citizenry, is not proposing remedies for this as Representative Justin Amash has done, is not putting their heart and soul into trying at the very least to slow this thing so it can be analyzed and it can be actually and truthfully reviewed so that the representatives of the people actually have a say-so in what’s going to happen in the future, that’s not even going on anymore. They made a head fake towards it, had a chance to vote on this in Congress before they recessed, and they voted no. The Amash-Conyers amendment went down in flames, this while our government is funding Islamic terrorist lunatics in Egypt and trying to orchestrate the overthrow of the only thing that stands between the diaspora and certain slaughter of Christians in Syria, Bashar al-Assad. I haven’t even gotten into that news yet today. So the leviathan creeps forward, does it not?
End Mike Church Show Transcript