The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPhilip Giraldi Archive
The Death of Privacy: Government Fearmongers to Read Your Mail
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

It is discouraging to note just how the United States has been taking on the attributes of a police state since 9/11. Stories of police raids on people’s homes gone wrong are frequently in the news. In one recent incident, a heavily armed SWAT team was sent to a St. Louis county home. The armed officers entered the building without knocking, shot the family dog and forced the family members to kneel on the floor where they were able to watch their pet struggle and then die. The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.

Indeed, any encounter with any police at any level has now become dangerous. Once upon a time it was possible to argue with an officer over the justification for a traffic ticket, but that is no longer the case. You have to sit with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel while answering “Yes sir!” to anything the cop says. There have been numerous incidents where the uncooperative driver is ordered to get out of the car and winds up being tasered or shot.

Courts consistently side with police officers and with the government when individual rights are violated while the Constitution of the United States itself has even been publicly described by the president as “archaic” and “a bad thing for the country.” The National Security Agency (NSA) routinely and illegally collects emails and phone calls made by citizens who have done nothing wrong and the government even denies to Americans the right to travel to countries that it disapproves of, most recently Cuba.

And traveling itself has become an unpleasant experience even before one sits down in the 17 inches of seat-space offered by major airlines, with the gropers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acting as judge, jury and executioner for travelers who have become confused by the constantly changing rules about what they can do and carry with them. The TSA is now routinely “examining” the phones and laptops of travelers and even downloading the information on them, all without a warrant or probable cause. And the TSA even has a “little list” that identifies travelers who are uncooperative and flags them for special harassment.

Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime, establishing a precedent that will end freedom of speech, and the impending prosecution and imprisonment of Julian Assange for espionage will be the death of a truly free press. Americans are no longer guaranteed a trial by jury and can be held indefinitely by military tribunals without charges. Under George W. Bush torture and rendition were institutionalized while Barack Obama initiated the practice of executing US citizens overseas by drone if they were deemed to be a “threat.” There was no legal process involved and “kill” lists were updated every Tuesday morning. And perhaps the greatest crimes of all, both Obama and George W. Bush did not hesitate to bomb foreigners, bring about regime change, and start wars illegally in Asia and Africa.

The latest assault on civil liberties relates to what used to be referred to as privacy. Indeed, the United States government does not recognize that citizens have a right to privacy. Officials in the national security and intelligence agencies have reportedly become concerned that some new encryption systems being used for email traffic and telephones have impeded government monitoring of what information is being exchanged. As is often the case, “terrorism” is the principal reason being cited for the need to read and listen to the communications of ordinary citizens, but it should be observed in passing that more people in the US are killed annually by falling furniture than by acts of terror. It should also be noted that the federal, state and local governments as well as private companies spend well in excess of a trillion dollars every year to fight the terrorism threat, most of which is completely unnecessary or even counter-productive.

At the end of June senior Trump Administration officials connected to the National Security Council met to discuss what to do about the increasing use of the effective encryption systems by both the public and by some internet service providers, including Apple, Google and Facebook. Particular concern was expressed regarding systems that cannot be broken by NSA at all even if maximum resources using the Agency’s computers are committed to the task. It is a condition referred to by the government agencies as “going dark.”

Under discussion was a proposal to go to Congress and to ask for a law either forbidding so-called end-to-end encryption or mandating a technological fix enabling the government to circumvent it. End-to-end encryption, which scrambles a message so that it is only readable by the sender and recipient, was developed originally as a security feature for iPhones in the wake of the whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposure of the extent to which NSA was surveilling US citizens. End-to-end makes most communications impossible to hack. From the law enforcement point of view, the alternative to a new law banning or requiring circumvention of the feature would be a major and sustained effort to enable government agencies to break the encryption, something that may not even be possible.

In the past, government snooping was enabled by some of the communications providers themselves, with companies like AT&T engineering in so-called “backdoor” access to their servers and distribution centers, where messages could be read directly and phone calls recorded. But the end-to-end encryption negates that option by sending a message out on the ethernet that is unreadable.

Phone security was last in the news in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack that killed 14, where the Department of Justice took Apple to court to access a locked iPhone belonging to one of the gunmen. Apple refused to create software to open the phone but the FBI was able to find a technician who could do so and the case was dropped, resulting in no definitive legal precedent on the government’s ability to force a private company to comply with its demands.

There is apparently little desire in Congress to take up the encryption issue, though the National Security Council, headed by John Bolton, clearly would like to empower government law enforcement and intelligence agencies by banning unbreakable encryption completely. It is, however, possibly something that can be achieved through an Executive Order from the president. If it comes about that way, FBI, CIA and NSA will be pleased and will have easy access to all one’s emails and phone calls. But the price to be paid is that once the security standards are lowered anyone else with minimal technical resources will be able to do the same, be they hackers or criminals. As usual, a disconnected and tone-deaf government’s perceived need “to keep you safe” will result in a loss of fundamental liberty that, once it is gone, will never be recovered.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
Hide 29 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. All true to one lesser or greater extent or the other. However, the root cause of unpleasant airline travel is all the low IQ uncultured rabble of the world who can now travel by plane or get a job at the airport.

    Imagine have to sit next to Sheila Jackson Lee, Fareeq Abdula Abkar, or even being in the same passenger screening line with that family from Disneyland. (with them getting waved through by TSA and you getting shaken down like a cocaine smuggler)

  2. @Jim bob Lassiter

    Since I retired I am often asked if I like to travel:

    My response–in a private jet with no airport security screening–yes. Cramped like a sardine and treated like one by airport security–ah no thanks.

    • Agree: RVBlake
  3. osama made The Beast attack its own citizens.

    osama won.

    • Replies: @joe2.5
  4. peterAUS says:

    Mr Author I take you want to help here and have to dumb down the message for the target audience. Appreciated, but you are fundamentally wrong.

    As far as online privacy there is one, and really, just ONE rule:
    There can be none.

    Nothing “tech” any of us can do can make the real difference.
    If “they” want to snoop on you they shall.

    The only, ONLY, way not to get snooped is not to connect to anything. Not even your own WAP.

    Simple as that.

    Here is a scenario for you:
    You do use encryption. They compromise your machine so they intercept keys input before the encryption process.
    You know:key press->keyboard controller-bus->chipset->buffer->CPU=>timer trigger->switch context to encripton code->read the buffer->encrypt the data there=====>
    Yes, yes, I know, but let’s not get too complicated. 90% of people reading this don’t get even that.

    And after decryption of incoming data has been completed anwhere from that buffer to the actual analog hardware on display.

    Makes sense?

    Doesn’t’ matter if it doesn’t. Just stick to the only rule that matters.
    There…….is……………….online……….privacy……..outside…………of…..LAN. Excluding WLAN. Just wires within your local area network.

    Now, if they are really onto you even that won’t matter much. They’ll “bug” your house.
    And if they can’t they ask you in person. Picture THAT.

    Now, of course, it’s possible to maintain privacy. But, that goes way above and beyond encryption, tech-related laws etc. It’s an ever-evolving mix of tech, PROCEDURES, and vigilance. Hard and tricky game.
    Very rare people can do it and only up to the point. Nobody on this Webzine I am sure.
    Me, just too lazy. And, of course, not keen to tempt the knock at the door. Or worse.

    Because, at the end of the game, there are “snatch squads” and “rendition”.
    Just keep that in mind. If you want, of course.

  5. John Whitehead is probably the countries leading chronicler of the States crimes in this area

  6. Lot says:

    “Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime”


  7. @Jim bob Lassiter

    I think I wouldn’t mind since odds are she’s a better human being than you. I’m sure you’d present yourself as a pleasant fellow to rub elbows with in the next passenger seat, but I’d hate to risk catching the perception distorting virus embedded in your cortex.

  8. @Justvisiting

    Since I retired I am often asked if I like to travel:

    My response–in a private jet with no airport security screening–yes. Cramped like a sardine and treated like one by airport security–ah no thanks.

    There actually is screening in Executive terminals, but in most it is minimal and the persons doing it seem almost to be embarassed to do it.

    On one flight from a small airport with, for god knows what reason, “airport-terminal style” security, when they came across and objected to our liquids, I said the magic words, “I’m the pilot in command; I authorise these.” Then they came across my tac-knife and objected to it, and I chanted the magic words, “It’s safety equipment … as pilot in command, I authorise it.” Since they were driving us directly to the aircraft on the ramp, they didn’t put up much of a fight, though their driver did pull the luggage hatch down on my shoulder as we were unloading our baggage.

  9. There used to be intelligence directives that ruled out “reading the mail” (voice, e-whatever) once it could be determined to have no national security value, but google probably demonstrated that serious money could be made by mining all that previously out-of-bounds traffic, which is why all the post 11 September legislation quietly over-ruled earlier prohibitions. Even with statutory cover for a wider array of previously probited practises, the spooks were cheating to get past any prohibitions that still remained.

  10. Given the US government’s successful & unquenchable appetite to destroy citizens’ constitutional rights, it simply amazes me that other nations still debate, in all seriousness, the relative virtues of a written bill of rights.

  11. @Lot

    “Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime”


    You mean it’s already a done deal?

  12. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim bob Lassiter

    Please post this stuff under Mr. Derbyshire’s and other racebaiters’ columns.

    It’s apparent that you’re trying to distract or discredit here.

  13. …and all based on the transparent lie of 9/11. But I wouldn’t grieve too much over stupid Americans who, instead of protesting, rather enjoy their captivity.

    • Replies: @Low Voltage
  14. Any competent programmer can write an encryption algorithm that no supercomputer can decrypt. All it takes is imagination. The problem with that code, however, is that it’s unique to the parties that agree beforehand to use it and therefore does not have the ability to function between non predetermined contacts. I suspect that type of encryption is used all the time by criminal organizations and gov’t, but I repeat myself.

    As for breaking into systems to listen in on every keystroke, that does exist and is made possible by people dumb enough to use the Windows operating system and their joke of a firewall. Security and robustness is why the entire Internet runs on Linux. If people want security, it’s available, but you actually have to know something about computers and security to use it. Therefore the artsy people who can’t balance a checkbook prefer an Apple or Microsoft product. It’s the ‘don’t know anything technical and don’t want to know anything technical’ people that are the political class, the entertainment industry, media, finance, etc that run the world.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  15. mr meener says:

    I say the boomer cuckservatives and the boomer commies have destroyed this country worse then if china and russia invaded from the east and west coast. the strangulation of tons of regulations the loss of liberty the EPA NSA TSA homoland security multi trillion dollar police /spying state multi trillion dollar wars for israel homo marriage tranny rights . the “greatest” generation started the ball rolling in early to mid 60’s with civil rights voting rights then the worst immigration reform act. then passed the whole pile of shit to the doomers

  16. @Carroll Price

    You’re right. We seem to enjoy it. It makes us feel like we are part of this righteous war against some implacable foe. SMH

  17. @Lot



    (3) POLITICALLY MOTIVATED.—The term “politically motivated” means actions to impede or constrain commerce with Israel that are intended to coerce political action from or impose policy positions on Israel.

    The bill is about opposing those “politically motivated” “actions”. By actions, of course, a lot of things could be (mis)construed as. Especially by armies of Israeli-first lawyers. It is also funny against the background of the US sanctioning the rest of the world to the left and to the right. For people having a revulsion towards US Congress casuistry (that is while being totally in the pockets of US Israeli-firstres), the video of the 23 standing ovations by US “servants of people” to the most trivial bromides about “democracy” and US-Israeli “alliance” by Bibi could be a good insight into the mechanism of decomposition of American Republic due to its utter corruption with active participation of Israeli lobbies in the US.

    • Replies: @Lot
  18. peterAUS says:

    As for breaking into systems to listen in on every keystroke, that does exist and is made possible by people dumb enough to use the Windows operating system and their joke of a firewall.

    You believe that running ANY version of UNIX-like OS will prevent that type of exploit?

    And, more, I guess that UNIX like system calls get executed by firmware running on top of digital electronics hardware. Two additional layers where “they” can put whatever they want. Even in the factory.

    Speaking of the former a question for somebody, perhaps:
    Had a chat with a friend who is a network security specialist (firewalls and such) over the weekend. We got into a chat re:”O.K. I know they can compromise my systems. To exploit it properly they’d need to send some data back to somewhere. Now…..what piece of hardware/software can we put somewhere from our machine NIC to the router to see, recognize, that traffic”.
    I mean, at the end of the day it must be an Ethernet (I guess for 99,99 % of people) frame.
    We decided it’s possible but requires just too much work…hehe…
    But, then again, both of us aren’t THAT good in this game. Maybe somebody here is. So, what would you suggest we could do and which doesn’t require a lot of work, even on a daily basis?
    Just to recognize the exploit communicating with the outside world.

    As for the later:
    With the current level of integration, can any non-major Government player, with certainty, recognize what electronics on the chip does?
    Say: this is Control Unit; this is Floating Point unit; this is….I don’t know. Let’s do some tests and see what THIS part of the chip does. Possible?
    Hehe…I remember the days of old PDP types when you could trace any signal and know exactly what “this” piece of digital electronics does. Not so sure it’s even possible anymore today.
    Bottom line, easy to put, I guess, some “proprietary” hardware backdoor type.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  19. Barzini says:

    Regimes often get more oppressive in their last stages. The reason for this is that when more and more people realize that the regime is corrupt, the many good people that were once part of the regime start dropping out one by one. After a period of many years, the regime reaches a point where all the good people have departed and there is no one left except bad people. Once this point is reached, there are no longer any good people to restrain the bad people who are now running everything. So the regime becomes increasingly vicious and evil.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  20. @Barzini

    The reason for this is that when more and more people realize that the regime is corrupt, the many good people that were once part of the regime start dropping out one by one. After a period of many years, the regime reaches a point where all the good people have departed and there is no one left except bad people.

    Very good observation, it also coincides with my own (not really, Tolstoy already sort of got it) theory of the high density of the ass-holes in political space, and the United States political space certainly reached toxic density (I would say between 0.7 and 1.2 asshole per cubic meter of D.C. space) some time in 2003-2005. I am not being facetious; OK, just teeny-weeny bit and yes, your observation is spot on.

  21. @peterAUS

    Don’t put words into my mouth so you can build a straw man. I never claimed that Linux was invincible as that would be stupid. When comparing the major operating systems, Windows is at the very bottom of the heap for security. Mac is a nit, so who cares? Linux is head and shoulders above all the possible operating systems a normal person or corporation might want to use.

    The average person has an IQ of 100. Pretty dumb. That person will use a garbage operating system like Windows with little regard for security until the lack of security bites them. Corporations use Windows because management is primarily made up of average IQ people that are not interested in security; they want bells and whistles, ease of use, shiny sparkly BS.

    The recent ransom payoffs by municipalities is evidence that their systems are wide open to hackers.

    I’m a retired white hat hacker. I installed a very customized firewall for a major Dallas area defense contractor’s employee recreation/gym facility. As soon as I plugged it in the logs started growing. I though I messed up. I investigated only to discover the huge volume of traffic coming in from foreign countries on protocols that scream HACK. I reported this to management and they told me not to mention it further. That firewall stayed in place and shitcanned the traffic, but no one was interested in reviewing what systems those attackers had access to via their compromised network before the firewall.

    At another site, I got a contract to attempt to break into a corporate network. Long story short, I was in in a few minutes and left a message on one of their servers. Next day, I got call from the corporate offices to show up for a meeting that afternoon. When I explained that their very expensive hardware based firewall was as clear as glass to ALL traffic because their IT staff had never written any rules, the HMFIC fired 8 people on the spot in my presence.

    You can’t buy canned security. You have to work at it and monitor what’s going on. With Windows, you had better put a Linux firewall in front of it because Windows security always has been trash.

  22. peterAUS says:

    …build a straw man.

    …that would be stupid.

    …The average person has an IQ of 100. Pretty dumb. That person will use a garbage

    …. management is primarily made up of average IQ people

    ..I’m a retired white hat hacker.

    … shitcanned the traffic.

    …firewall was as clear as glass to ALL traffic because their IT staff had never written any rules..

    …Windows security always has been trash…

    Moving on.

  23. Lot says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    That is a failed bill from the previous Congress. You see the 2017-18 up top?

    PG claim is:

    “Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime”

    I say he’s either intentionally lying or so senile he lacks the most basic knowledge of the topic he obsesses his whole life on. Pretty easy to prove me wrong. Please show me where “Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime”

    It’s OK though, I can see how a Russian could be confused by this. Here’s the truth: in America we love both our freedom of speech, and as the New Zion we also love the Original.

    • Replies: @OEMIKITLOB
  24. @Jim bob Lassiter

    Yea, verily yea!

    I have not traveled via commercial airlines in four years, due to an extra high-radiation treatment then while my wife was being groped by dykes. We were both “pre-check”. I have no intention of breaking that streak until TSA is abolished. In other words, never.

    Meanwhile–in the stopped clock dept.–congressperson Ilhan Omar has proposed to abolish DHS outright. Send me the petition asap!

  25. joe2.5 says:
    @Sick of Orcs

    And “Osama” is the government itself anyway.

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs
  26. Albeit says:

    “the Constitution of the United States itself has even been publicly described by the president as ‘archaic’ and ‘a bad thing for the country.’ ”

    This one is also false (the cited “independent” article even had many commentators calling it out as fake news). Seems that some in the media get a kick out of fomenting reader anger over things that did not actually happen.

  27. @Lot

    Why say he is intentionally lying or senile? If Congress has considered a bill, yet that bill failed, which you are not disputing, then Congress is considering such bills.

    And, knowing Congress, they will introduce another in which all the parties involved get to more fairly distribute the plunder amongst themselves and figure out how “sell it” to the people since this is always the sticking point for bills.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply -

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Philip Giraldi Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.