We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

What moved Americans about Snowden was not just the scale of NSA hoovering of data – though polls indicate strong aversion – but the lying to Congress. Snowden, a Republican former soldier, was simply shocked at the clear collapse of congressional and judicial oversight. The US had lurched into aping precisely the totalitarian regimes it professed to guard against (…) Yet none of this seems to turn a hair in London. While Washington has been tearing itself apart, dismissive remarks by William Hague in the Commons and Lady Warsi in the Lords could have passed muster in Andropov’s supreme soviet. Hague said merely that everything was “authorised, necessary, proportionate and targeted”. National security was not for discussion. British oversight was “probably the strongest … anywhere in the world”. This remark – contradicted by GCHQ itself – went unchallenged.

Meanwhile Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, head of the intelligence and security committee and supposed champion of citizens against state intrusion, positively grovelled towards GCHQ. He said we should all defer to “those involved in intelligence work”. He even cancelled a public hearing with the security chiefs for fear of embarrassing them.

For Labour, Yvette Cooper claimed obscurely she “long believed in stronger oversight” but she was drowned by a dad’s army of former defence and home secretaries, such as Lord Reid, Lord King and Jack Straw. All rallied to the securocrats’ banner in shrill unison. I sometimes think these people would bring back the rack, the whip and the gallows if “vital for national security”.

Simon Jenkins

13 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Clovis Sangrail

    My colleagues and family all have the same cynical take on this issue, which goes “well anyone who ever assumed that they weren’t monitoring it all is either an idiot or hopelessly naive”.

    My own reaction is to share some of Jenkins’s surprise and all of his outrage. We have a bunch of incompetents running the country who are unable to realise quite how badly this is being taken.

    In addition, I would suggest that, even on their own terms, the NSA and GCHQ are, in effect, traitors. Traitors both by virtue of having betrayed the fundamental principles of their countries and by virtue of having engineered the creation of serious security failings in major internet architectures which exposes us and our communications to malignant third parties (as if they were needed).

  • guy herbert

    I sometimes think these people would bring back the rack, the whip and the gallows if “vital for national security”.

    … but they did. They just did so in secret, extra-legally, and outsourced it to places like Pakistan or Morocco, or, until not so long ago, Syria.

  • veryretired

    While I object to the uncontrolled spying, what bothers me even more is the continuous display of incompetence with regard to various real threats to public safety.

    The moslem major in Texas practically telegraphed his intentions to the military authorities, but they just turned away.

    The Boston bombers tripped several alarm wires, and the various supposed watchdog agencies were warned specifically by others about them, but it was all another surprise.

    This last lunatic, the ship yard shooter, had been displaying all sorts of mental and behavioral problems for years, but nothing was done, even when he asked for help from the VA.

    Even if all this intrusion and monitoring could be shown to be completely justified, what good has it done to allow these incompetent boobs to gather all this info?

    They can’t find the men’s room down the hall with sat nav.

    Close it down and fire every single one of them—how worse off could we be?

  • newrouter

    it is saturday evening here in america and the fed gov’t is shut down has anyone noticed?

  • Laird

    I think what we’re seeing is an unmistakable demonstration that in national politics (in both the US and the UK) it isn’t so much “our party versus theirs” but rather the political class versus the citizenry. When the Snowden revelations started coming out the immediate (and still the dominant) reaction of the Powers That Be was to circle the wagons and defend their collective turf. What most people had never noticed before is now becoming clear to all: national politicians view the general citizenry not as constituents but as tools at best, enemies at worst. Anything which threatens their collective power must be fought by any means necessary and at all costs. Once the common foe (namely, us) has been defeated they can go back to the game of squabbling over the allocation of power between/among the political parties, but until then they’re up on the barricades fighting side by side. And they’re fighting us.

    Newrouter, my understanding is that the government won’t shut down until October 1. (By my calendar that’s 10 days away still.) One can only hope. . . .

  • RickC


    I believe Mark Steyn was correct and the incompetence stems from their brains being on PC. Maybe though, we’re working from the wrong premise. Maybe it’s not incompetence at all because the real aim of the surveillance state has little to nothing to do with security from outside threats, but from the people the progressives seem to fear/loathe more . . . us. Just a thought.


  • George Atkisson

    Both Laird and Rick C. are honing in on the truth. Terrorism is not a threat to the Ruling Class. The loss of several thousand lives to terrorist attacks would only justify more surveillance and control. The Tea Party movement, gun owners, and conservative PAC’s here in the U.S. ARE a threat to their power and so the state is primarily focused on identifying, repressing, and silencing these groups. The IRS and DOJ are just the most obvious of these efforts.

  • Regional

    When you’re a dictator you’d hope your goons were competent but as proven time and time again the goons are incompetent through their pinko mindset.

  • Pardone

    “Pinko mindset?”

    Some of the biggest apologists for the NSA, which allows foreign countries to access US citizens data, with the feeble condition of “please don’t abuse it” are Conservatives.

    Given that most US politicians, of both parties, are effectively owned by the parasitic Contractors who benefit from an expanding security state. the more your rights are eroded, the more of your tax money they get. Its a win-win for them, and they have the politicians in their pocket.

    The greater the “security threat”, the more money goes to welfare queens like Lockheed (the corrupt, failed, taxpayer-funded company with links to the Yakuza) and the aptly named Booz Allen Hamilton, have a jolly booze up and charging the tab to the taxpayer.

    Its amusing that Lockheed bribes politicians with money it has got from the taxpayer, in order to steal more money from the taxpayer.. This is precisely the sort of thing Eisenhower warned about, but Conservatives continue to brainlessly suck on the teets of the Anti-American cancer that is the Millitary Industrial Complex, refusing to even dare question its hungry power grabs.

    All ideology is bunk. Most people on the Left and Right are really, in truth, nothing more than Fanboys.

  • Regional

    All ideology is bunk is all that’s need to be wrote.

  • Deep Lurker

    While I object to the uncontrolled spying, what bothers me even more is the continuous display of incompetence with regard to various real threats to public safety.

    I think Glen “Instapundit” Reynolds put it best:

    “The surveillance state is part of the state. Where surveillance is a priority – say, when political enemies are concerned – it’ll be ruthlessly efficient. The rest of the time, like when it involves protecting Americans from terrorists, it’s just another government job.”

  • Paul Marks

    Where is the evidence that Mr Snowden is a Republican?

    He may have been – but I do not hold Sir Simon Jenkins to be a reliable source.

    If Mr Snowden was a Republican his logical course of action would have been to take his concerns to someone like Senator Rand Paul(who could have raised the matter on the floor of the United States Senate – protected from danger of prosecution)

    His logical course of action would NOT have been to contact the (far left) “Wikileaks” (the Guardian newspaper is a hardly a Republican-friendly forum) – and then rush off first to the People’s Republic of China and then to the Russia of Mr Putin.

    I am no fan of the NSA – but I find Mr Snowden’s behaviour troubling (it does not add up).

    By the way – I do not believe Sir Simon’s implied claims that Mr Snowden was deeply shocked by what he found at the NSA. On the contrary I believe that Mr Snowden took this position in-the-hope of finding this stuff.

    Yes the “security state” are bad guys – but they are not the only bad guys.

    It is a bit like the Syrian Civil War – both sides being bad guys.

  • Julie near Chicago

    RickC, I’ve read your Steyn piece a couple of times now, and something has been lurking at the edges of my mind…that series of headlines, such important news, much more so than any issues of terrorism or terrorists…seems so familiar —

    AHAH! I have it!! I assume everyone has read Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters (the original version, I hope, not the rewrites). Exactly that series of news irrelevancies came out of Iowa after — well, I won’t spoil the story in case someone hasn’t yet had the pleasure.

    Was the man prescient? –No, probably not. He just knew his humans. Even if they — well, never mind. ;>)