By Contributor on December 16, 2013

By Marcy Wheeler

I will have more to say about tonight's 60 Minutes debacle.

But for now, let me make three points.

First, John Miller should never work in journalism again (he's reportedly prepping to run NYPD's intelligence shop, so he may not need to). There were numerous examples in tonight's 60 Minutes piece where even a mildly curious journalist would have asked follow-up questions. But given that Miller, who has an ODNI and FBI background, knows this stuff, his failure to ask obvious follow-up questions is proof this was not at all about journalism.

Of particular note that everyone is getting snookered on: Lying Keith Alexander said that NSA only listens to the phone calls of 60 US persons. When Miller sort of asked a follow-up, Alexander seemed to reiterate that this is NSA.

Of course, FBI formally owns the wiretapping of US persons in the US. So that 60 number may only be Americans we wiretap overseas. One of those follow-up questions that might have been useful.

Then there was the NSA's effort to show us what contact chaining looks like. As a threshold matter, they had subbed out all the real phone numbers with "555-1212" type numbers. Which means the computer was altered for TV.

Then, CBS showed an NSA analyst contact chaining off pirates.

Yes, pirates!

Aside from opening up NSA to the claim that we're now all 3 degrees of Captain Hook, the pirate operation of course means the claims of the analyst only apply to EO 12333 collection (cause pirates are almost never US persons).

That is, we should assume it is completely meaningless as a demonstration of what the US phone dragnet is about.

Then there's the scary BIOS plot.

I'll need to go back and review this, but the jist of the scary claim at the heart of the report is that the NSA caught China planning a BIOS plot to shut down the global economy.

To.

Shut.

Down.

The.

Global.

Economy.

Of course, if that happened, it'd mean a goodly percentage of China's 1.3 billion people would go hungry, which would lead to unbelievable chaos in China, which would mean the collapse of the state in China, the one thing the Chinese elite want to prevent more than anything.

But the NSA wants us to believe that this was actually going to happen.

That China was effectively going to set off a global suicide bomb. Strap on the economy in a cyber-suicide vest and ... KABOOOOOOOM!

And the NSA heroically thwarted that attack.

That's what they want us to believe and some people who call themselves reporters are reporting as fact.

Get more Emptywheel:

Fallout From Wedding Party Drone Strike in Yemen Continues

NSA's 60 Wiretaps and FBI's 1,728 Wiretaps?

Emptywheel's Pro Football Trash Talk - Week 15

Photo: Flickr user fredric.jacobs, creative commons licensed.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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