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Published: Sunday 04 August, 2013

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For some time I have been impressed by the quality of the female commentators on the television news and commentary that I choose to watch, MSNBC. Besides the impress michael kors outlet store handbags ive Rachel Maddow, there are several women who are moving up to positions of more and more responsibility. There are Joy Reed, Krystal Ball and one who has recently graduated to her own show, Karen Finney. There she was in the michael kors outlet store handbags middle of a Saturday afternoon with a guest who began to parrot Republican talking points, and what did Finney say? Believe it or not, she cut off the discussion by saying that discussion on her show is limited to facts! Hows that for a concept? Its so crazy it just might work!

But seriously, folks, I am really writing about ethics here. The conservative talk vacuum has given up even the pretense of being factual. They conflate stories, make unending ad hominem attacks on their sanctioned targets, and lie outright. The precarious state that the general public is in right now is directly related to the lying and fearmongering that has been engendered by the uncontrollable racial hatred that the Republican Party has showed us that it can no longer contain.

However, the scandal stories, which have dominated news cycles for weeks now, are beginning to unravel. As I posted yesterday, the socalled IRS Scandal is falling to pieces before our eyes. At the beginningand before one moment of hearings or testimonyRepublican Inquisitor Darryl Issa declared that he was going to prove exactly what he had decided was true. Well, it has been a few weeks and he has not yet proved anything except that the Republicans are making this up as they go along.

Now, as the National Security Administration scandal is unfolding, we are seeing a lot of shortcuts in coverage, mostly related to what I mention above, the conflation of the NSA with the private contracting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. Remember Booz Allen Hamilton? Dont forget them!

You see, with all the very loose talk about the government and their spying on Americans through PRISM Internet surveillance and telephone records, the media has forgotten, or perhaps they never got it through their heads, that Edward Snowden was an employee of a private contracting firmBooz Allen Hamiltonand not an employee of the United States government. Hey, Ill bet you remember that from my commentary yesterday.

But Chris Matthews hasnt learned it yet, apparently. He went on and on about the government on his show Hardball this evening, with no apparent realization that Snowden has just been fired from a private consulting firmBooz Allen Hamilton, dont forgetand he is now a free agent, in that it is by no means certain that he will ultimately be considered to have done anything wrong.

He leaked documents. The uproar over those documents leans a lot on the idea that the government was doing illegal spying. But another thing that the talking heads are very short on is the stipulation that Snowden did not leak any information about illegal activities by the government or even by Booz Allen Hamilton. All the information that he leaked was about perfectly legal activities.

There are some commentators who complain the the Obama Administration has enlarged the body of law surrounding surveillance in order to legalize things that were being done during the Bush Administration. Well, what would they prefer? A program that is covered by a law can be investigated.

On the other hand, the government has chosen to outsource our national security to private contractors, who can sell information such as email addresses, while the government cant. Individual agents who work for private companies can also sell sensitive information to our enemies without much penalty, especially if they defect later.

Snowden has done neither of these things. If you can understand this, you will be a few pages ahead of Matthews on this: Snowden has been warning us about abuses and excesses, and the documents he leaked were proof that such abuses and excesses are going on. He says that he became so uncomfortable with the amount of freefloating information that he took action to end it. That action will change the rest of his life.

You arent going to hear that on Fox News. You wont even hear much of it on MSNBC. The majority of the hosts have not yet grasped this situation, and they are regaling us with repetitions of the same sound bytes while they try to wrap their minds around it. But there is really only one thing to remember. We now consider Daniel Ellsberg a herothe man who leaked the Pentagon Papers. So withhold your judgment for a few weeks while this shakes out.

President Barack Obama has stated repeatedly that the Congress needs to review all the security statutes and reevaluate whether the President needs extraor michael kors outlet store handbags dinary war powers any longer. He has made no secret about this. But once Obama expresses a desire, by God, the Republicans are living for the chance to see that it doesnt happen. They wouldnt take a look at this for love or moneyand thats saying a lot for a bunch of Congressmen who are bought and paid for. But do something that Obama wants? Thats a bridge too far.

Now, so that you understand the issue, Im going to make this article a little longer and explain why so much data is stored in various places. Lets say you try to sign onto your Internet account someday soon and your passwords dont work. Most likely you will call the company for an explanation. I used to do this work fulltime for America Online, for four years, so I know what happens on those calls.

You may find that your bill is overdue, or that your account has been canceled for some kind of abuse. A typical reason would be a hotheaded remark made in a chat room, perhaps by your teenager: Ill kill you if you go out with Robbie. Thats grounds for some companies to cancel your account.

But now, suppose you dont believe the person on the phone. You decide to sue. Well, what else can the company do except take the phone call transmission out of their database and allow it to be listened to? This can only happen in two instances: one, you sue and there is a subpena for the call. The other instance is if law enforcement gets an order. This settles the complaint one way or another.

Next time you are online using an instantmessaging program or a chat room, note if you see a Notify button on the frame. That is the companys way of policing their account holders and give themselves grounds to terminate people who dont handle the Internet well.

I was given to understand, when I worked for not one but two Internet companies, that I could assume that my calls were being recorded. For me it was a definite incentive to handle everything to the best of my ability. But hey, look at your phone bill. Suppose you get a bill for hundreds of dollars that claims that someone used a whole lot of minutes making calls, or your child sent thousands of text messages and ran up your bill? You call them, right? If necessary, if you dont actually see the itemized calls and message times and dates on your bill, that information can be retrieved as well. If the girl friend of an account holder calls in because she has an email address on her boyfriends account, she will probably told that she is not entitled to information unless she is officially given his permission to be told the details on the account. Believe me, I handled hundreds of calls from furious people who demanded information that I was simply not allowed to give them.

Now, lets go over that again from a different viewpoint. The NSA may have records of your phone calls and Internet usage; it is quite easy to put information in a file and email it. I was never given the rights to do that, but its a simple procedure. But here is what is important: a cell phone company or an Internet provider can pass their databases to the government, but the government cant do anything with the information except store it until something within the file is needed.

No, folks, it isnt the government that sells your data. If Booz Allen Hamilton can make millions from selling lists of millions of email addresses, there is no law that says they cant do it, unless the companies themselves specify that. When a company like a shopping website says that they dont share email information with third parties, they dont. But if a company doesnt specify this, they are most likely to be doing it.

This is the result of putting a profit motive into national security. The scandal that Snowden has attempted to alert us to is within Booz Allen Hamilton and other contractors who are privy to nationalsecuritylevel information, Internet companies and telephone providers. He didnt say that the government was sharing or selling that informationexcept when they sent it to Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden is not revealing secret information about Chris Matthews government. He is telling on Booz Allen Hamilton. I will take note of the day when this becomes clear in Matthews mind.

Meanwhile, what we need to do is take a look at the runaway proliferation of private contracting companies that became notorious for their paramilitary activities in Iraq and Afghanistanelectrocuting our soldiers with unsafe shower facilities, selling thirtydollar hamburgers at their contracted mess halls. About how much uproar was there about that? Did it last out more than a week of news cycles?

Then there were the lewd parties with the paramilitary troops in Afghanistan. Were contracts actually terminated? I think a few were, to be sure. But the mad dash in the direction of dollars has led to the inflation of costs for the military and the NSAoh, what? You thought that the budget of the Defense Department was going to the Armed Forces? Well, some of it is, of course, but a whole lot of those billions of dollars goes to contractors, who are doing so well in the war business that they have their paid shills in Congress fighting tooth and nail to keep wars going. Theres money to be made!

This insanity is being committed over the life and limbs of American men and women who are pawns in this game. It has to stop. In order to stop this you have to get angry enough to throw Republicans out of Washington, D. C. You have to ignore the phony SuperPAC ads that lie to you and obscure the truth and then have the gall to ask you to pay their taxes. michael kors outlet store handbags