The Banality of Systemic Evil – The New York Times

A recent poll showed that 70 percent of people aged 18 to 34 thought Edward Snowden “did a good thing.” Has the younger generation lost its moral compass?

No. In my view, just the opposite.

A good illustration of this phenomenon appears in “Moral Mazes,” a book by the sociologist Robert Jackall that explored the ethics of decision making within several corporate bureaucracies. In it, Jackall made several observations that dovetailed with those of Arendt. The mid-level managers that he spoke with were not “evil” people in their everyday lives, but in the context of their jobs, they had a separate moral code altogether, what Jackall calls the “fundamental rules of corporate life”:

(1) You never go around your boss. (2) You tell your boss what he wants to hear, even when your boss claims that he wants dissenting views. (3) If your boss wants something dropped, you drop it. (4) You are sensitive to your boss’s wishes so that you anticipate what he wants; you don’t force him, in other words, to act as a boss. (5) Your job is not to report something that your boss does not want reported, but rather to cover it up. You do your job and you keep your mouth shut.

Source: The Banality of Systemic Evil – The New York Times

Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens | Glenn Greenwald | Opinion | The Guardian

The president’s partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize

when this memo refers to “a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida”, what it actually means is this: someone whom the President – in total secrecy and with no due process – has accused of being that.

the memo isn’t justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US. It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with no due process, of being that. The distinction between (a) government accusations and (b) proof of guilt is central to every free society, by definition, yet this memo – and those who defend Obama’s assassination power – willfully ignore it.

Source: Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens | Glenn Greenwald | Opinion | The Guardian

The Hidden Classified Briefing Most of Congress Missed – The Atlantic

The wild story of the short-notice, three-hour viewing period for a national-security document on the August Friday that summer recess started

Source: The Hidden Classified Briefing Most of Congress Missed – The Atlantic

 

Yet another example of how the national security edifice stands in the way of duly elected officials governing by withholding information from them in every way legally permitted or unlikely to be discovered.

How to tell your mother and bosses why they should protest surveillance.

The people who want to spy on and store everything we say and do have created a singular advantage in their propaganda campaign for total surveillance——a slogan designed to shut down the debate before it begins. Here it is: “Terrorists will kill your children.”

Can we counter the dire warnings and slippery logic with language that is both truthful and pro-liberty?

Source: How to tell your mother and bosses why they should protest surveillance.

NASA’s Plutonium Problem Could End Deep-Space Exploration | WIRED

Most of what humanity knows about the outer planets came back to Earth on plutonium power. Cassini’s ongoing exploration of Saturn, Galileo’s trip to Jupiter, Curiosity’s exploration of the surface of Mars, and the 2015 flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft are all fueled by plutonium-238. The characteristics of this metal’s radioactive decay make it a super-fuel. More importantly, there is no other viable option. But there’s a problem: We’ve almost run out.

Source: NASA’s Plutonium Problem Could End Deep-Space Exploration | WIRED

Obama administration urges FCC to require carriers to unlock mobile devices – The Washington Post

Several months after calling for legislation to unlock cellphones, the White House filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday asking that all wireless carriers be required to unlock all mobile devices so that users can easily switch between carriers.

Source: Obama administration urges FCC to require carriers to unlock mobile devices – The Washington Post

Exclusive: Pipeline Safety Chief Says His Regulatory Process Is ‘Kind of Dying’ | InsideClimate News

Jeffrey Wiese (center), PHMSA’s associate administrator for pipeline safety, testifies at a hearing on pipeline safety.

“Do I think I can hurt a major international corporation with a $2 million civil penalty? No,” he said.

Because generating a new pipeline rule can take as long as three years, Wiese said PHMSA is creating a YouTube channel to persuade the industry to voluntarily improve its safety operations.

In New Orleans, Wiese said “an under-informed populace highly dependent on fossil fuels” is prone to negative perceptions of the industry. He said that penchant is exacerbated by a press corps that doesn’t “have time to fully understand the story” and has instead served as a vehicle for “gang warfare” through its coverage of events like the March 29th rupture of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark.

Congress, Wiese contended, hasn’t done much to help.

“It’s very political in Washington. Nobody wants to try to figure out what’s the best thing to do. They’re thinking about what’s the most advantageous position to take,” he said, later adding that he’d recently had an unpleasant meeting with a “very hot” congressional delegation about the Pegasus spill in Arkansas.

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., a member of the delegation Wiese was referring to, has criticized the operations and maintenance of the pipeline and PHMSA’s lack of transparency.

“If public officials and Arkansans would have known then what we know now, changes to the operation of the pipeline may have been demanded years ago,” he said.

Source: Exclusive: Pipeline Safety Chief Says His Regulatory Process Is ‘Kind of Dying’ | InsideClimate News

N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web – The New York Times

The National Security Agency has secretly circumvented or cracked much of the digital scrambling that protects global commerce, e-mails, phone calls, medical records and Web searches.

Having lost a public battle in the 1990s to insert its own “back door” in all encryption, it set out to accomplish the same goal by stealth.

Source: N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web – The New York Times

Hundreds of Pages of NSA Spying Documents to be Released As Result of EFF Lawsuit | Electronic Frontier Foundation

In a major victory in one of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the Justice Department conceded yesterday that it will release hundreds of pages of documents, including FISA court opinions, related to the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the law the NSA has relied upon for years to mass collect the phone records of millions of innocent Americans.

Source: Hundreds of Pages of NSA Spying Documents to be Released As Result of EFF Lawsuit | Electronic Frontier Foundation