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Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly

It wasn’t just people, animals and trees that were affected by radiation exposure at Chernobyl, but also the decomposers: insects, microbes, and fungi

By Rachel Nuwer | Smithsonian Magazine | March 14, 2014

Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning.

Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone—including some bagged as far away as Germany—continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation.

However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem.

The team decided to investigate this question in part because of a peculiar field observation. “We have conducted research in Chernobyl since 1991 and have noticed a significant accumulation of litter over time,” the write. Moreover, trees in the infamous Red Forest—an area where all of the pine trees turned a reddish color and then died shortly after the accident—did not seem to be decaying, even 15 to 20 years after the meltdown.

“Apart from a few ants, the dead tree trunks were largely unscathed when we first encountered them,” says Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and lead author of the study. “It was striking, given that in the forests where I live, a fallen tree is mostly sawdust after a decade of lying on the ground.”

Wondering whether that seeming increase in dead leaves on the forest floor and those petrified-looking pine trees were indicative of something larger, Mousseau and his colleagues decided to run some field tests. When they measured leaf litter in different parts of the exclusion zones, they found that the litter layer itself was two to three times thicker in the “hottest” areas of Chernobyl, where radiation poisoning was most intense. But this wasn’t enough to prove that radiation was responsible for this difference.

To confirm their hunch, they created around 600 small mesh bags and stuffed them each with leaves, collected at an uncontaminated site, from one of four different tree species: oak, maple, birch or pine. They took care to ensure that no insects were in the bags at first, and then lined half of them with women’s pantyhose to keep insects from getting in from the outside, unlike the wider mesh-only versions.

Like a decomposer Easter egg hunt, they then scattered the bags in numerous locations throughout the exclusion zone, all of which experienced varying degrees of radiation contamination (including no contamination at all). They left the bags and waited for nearly a year—normally, an ample amount of time for microbes, fungi and insects to make short work of dead organic material, and the pantyhose-lined bags could help them assess whether insects or microbes were mainly responsible for breaking down the leaves.

The results were telling. In the areas with no radiation, 70 to 90 percent of the leaves were gone after a year. But in places where more radiation was present, the leaves retained around 60 percent of their original weight. By comparing the mesh with the panty hose-lined bags, they found that insects play a significant role in getting rid of the leaves, but that the microbes and fungi played a much more important role. Because they had so many bags placed in so many different locations, they were able to statistically control for outside factors such as humidity, temperature and forest and soil type to make sure that there wasn’t anything besides radiation levels impacting the leaves’ decomposition.

“The gist of our results was that the radiation inhibited microbial decomposition of the leaf litter on the top layer of the soil,” Mousseau says. This means that nutrients aren’t being efficiently returned to the soil, he adds, which could be one of the causes behind the slower rates of tree growth surrounding Chernobyl.

Other studies have found that the Chernobyl area is at risk of fire, and 27 years’ worth of leaf litter, Mousseau and his colleagues think, would likely make a good fuel source for such a forest fire. This poses a more worrying problem than just environmental destruction: Fires can potentially redistribute radioactive contaminants to places outside of the exclusion zone, Mousseau says. “There is growing concern that there could be a catastrophic fire in the coming years,” he says.

Unfortunately, there’s no obvious solution for the problem at hand, besides the need to keep a stringent eye on the exclusion zone to try to quickly snuff out potential fires that breaks out. The researchers are also collaborating with teams in Japan, to determine whether or not Fukushima is suffering from a similar microbial dead zone.

Rachel Nuwer writes for Smart News and is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com. She is a freelance science writer based in Brooklyn.

Rachel Nuwer

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

How to rob a bank: William Black

TEDx Talks | March 3, 2014

William Black is an associate professor of economics and law at UMKC. He has held many prestigious positions, including executive director for Fraud Prevention. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae’s former senior management. He is a criminologist and former financial regulator.

KPFA interviews:

Guns and Butter | April 4, 2012

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“Formula For Fraud” with William K. Black from the first Italian economic Summit on Modern Money Theory in Rimini, Italy. How to become a billionaire – the four necessary ingredients in the recipe for fraud; the three sure consequences of banking control fraud; gutting of the underwriting process; Gresham’s Law; The Business Roundtable; hyperinflation of a bubble. – link

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Guns and Butter | February 29, 2012

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“The Greatest Bank Robbery Ever” with William K. Black. Banks, intensifying financial crises; money manager capitalism; sovereign currency; crony capitalism; theoclassical economists; control fraud, Commodities Future Modernization Act of 2000; S&L Liars’ Loan Crisis of 1990-91; Reinventing Government Movement; deregulation, desupervision and defacto decriminalization; fraud incentives; looting; subprime; Enron; Parmalat; BofA; Citigroup; Ameriquest; Washington Mutual; systemically dangerous institutions; Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB); faux stress tests; European austerity crisis; Mario Draghi, President of the ECB. – link

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manhunt leads to massive roadblock, warrantless car-to-car searches

Police State USA | March 15, 2014

ROCKVILLE, MD — Thousands of motorists were brought to a standstill when police conducted a massive roadblock to find three crime suspects. Twelve lanes of traffic were shut down and swarms of armed government agents combed through a giant traffic jam performing warrantless vehicle-to-vehicle searches.

The busy Tuesday morning commute was abruptly halted just after 10:00 a.m. on March 11th. One driver told ABC News that traffic stopped and he witnessed 30 police cars pass on the shoulders of I-270 near Rockville. “Then, when I saw a wall of police officers with automatic weapons approaching our cars, it was apparent that something serious was taking place.”

Police had received intelligence that a local bank had been robbed that morning and the vehicle carrying the 3 suspects had turned onto the interstate highway. A throng of officers from the Rockville, Montgomery County, and Maryland State Police Departments blockaded all lanes of traffic in both directions and began conducting an intense manhunt.

There was “a lot of yelling, a lot of orders being given, helicopters, dogs barking, sirens, police cars driving by,” said eyewitness Carlton Higdon to WJLA.

Miles of cars were stranded and motorists were confined to their vehicles, with no explanation, for over an hour. Confused people exiting their vehicles were met with hostility from the police. WTOP reported that one woman leaned out her door to vomit, she was shouted at by cops to close her door.

“It’s just awful,” motorist Carmel Desroche to WJLA, describing the traffic jam. “I’ve never seen both directions of 270 like this before.  It was painful.”

While stuck in traffic, motorists were approached by armed agents and ordered at gunpoint to submit to warrantless searches of the interior of their vehicles. The Washington Post interviewed an innocent driver named Don Troop who experienced the ordeal.

A group of officers made its way to his car and other cars around him. “They were just walking along saying: ‘Pop the trunk! Pop the trunk!’”

He overheard a man in a truck next to him call out to another motorist: The police are looking for bank robbers. A short time later, about nine officers approached his car — including state police in tan uniforms, county police in dark uniforms and at least one plainclothes officer wearing a yellow tie.

Among their commands to motorists that Troop heard:

“Stay in your car.”

“Pop the trunk.”

“Get your hands on the steering wheel. Get you hands up where we can see them.”

(Source: Scott Ferrebee)

(Source: Scott Ferrebee)

As described, these searches were in no way consensual and were performed with the motorists under duress. Nothing ordered at gunpoint can ever be considered voluntary. Not surprisingly, we have not seen a report of anyone brave enough to refuse the hostile violation of the 4th amendment.

The police ultimately located and arrested the suspects and took them into custody. They did not resist, and they were not located in anyone’s trunk.

The search was described later by Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks as an operation of “systematically checking the trunks and rear hatches” of the detained vehicles.

The bank’s $7,000 was ultimately safe and sound, although the same could not be said of the rights of many innocent commuters. The authorities simply explained that their oath to uphold the Constitution does not apply during “exigent circumstances.” Rockville Police Chief Tom Manger remained unapologetic even after getting angry emails about the tactics.

“For those folks that wondered how is that the police can just walk through traffic like that and get folks to show their hands, get folks to pop their trunks, between the exigency of the circumstances and the information that we had, it gave us the legal foundation to do what we did,” the chief said, according to WTOP.

Apologists argue that the ends justify the means in law enforcement; that as long as the bad guys were caught one way or another, the operation was a success. This position easily suits the purposes of the police state. The erosion of liberty is simple when the people applaud as their rights are violated.

The reality is that crisis situations are exactly the times when individual liberties are most vulnerable and needing to be defended. These are also the most challenging and unpopular times to defend civil rights, as swathes of fearful people clamor for the government to keep them safe. The folly of letting the government pick and choose when it must may follow the constitution should be obvious, however. To keep our rights intact we must refuse to accept these mass suspensions of the constitution for an increasingly wide variety of excuses.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

300 arrested at Montreal protest against police brutality

RT | March 16, 2014

Canadian police surrounded an annual protest against police brutality in Montreal, arresting 288 people before the demonstration had barely started.

BiychNpIYAAWbQDThe police claim the protest was illegal as the participants did not warn the authorities of their itinerary.

Montreal’s 18th annual protest against police brutality was cut dramatically short Saturday when police rounded up the participants. Minutes into the demonstration, riot officers converged on Jean-Talon Street and began detaining protesters. According to protesters there was a strong police presence, with police horses, cars and a helicopter on the scene.

“It was a veritable army of police … who occupied the area surrounding the Jean-Talon metro when the protest was to start,” the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, which organizes the annual protest, said in a written statement issued after the protest.

Police declared the demonstration was illegal and asked the protesters to disperse. However, the activists carried on marching, brandishing banners and chanting slogans, such as “They want us to respect them, but they don’t respect us!”

Riot police then encircled the protesters and began making arrests. The majority of the 288 people who were taken into custody were released shortly afterwards, but four people may be charged under the Criminal Code for assaulting an officer and obstructing the police. Several others could face charges of mischief.

One man sustained injuries to his face during the police intervention and was tended to by paramedics on the site, said officers.

“They refused to share their itinerary, and they refused to give us any details. When we got there, we asked them not to jump onto the street, and they answered by going into the street and yelling at us that they were not cooperating,” police spokesman Ian Lafrenière said. He added that the protest has a bad reputation with the authorities and on previous occasions the demonstrations had descended into violence and rioting.

However, activists had a different version of events and have accused the police of lying about the protesters’ activities.

BiyuANtCIAAx7OT“It looks good in the media — the police can say (all of these) people were arrested, were breaking windows and stuff, but it’s not true. They were doing nothing,” Claudine Lamothe told the Montreal Gazette.

The Collective Opposed to Police Brutality has staged a protest in Montreal every year for the past 18 years. This year they focused their protest on the issue of “social cleansing” where the authorities try to “get rid of people who are deemed unwanted,” the group writes on its website. The group cites an incident in January when an unnamed Montreal police officer threatened to tie a homeless man to a lamppost in temperatures of minus 30 if he did not move along. Following the incident, Lafrenière told the Montreal Gazette that the officer had been reprimanded for his “unacceptable” behavior.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela: Who You Gonna Believe, the New York Times or Your Lying Eyes?

By Mark Weisbrot | CEPR Americas Blog | March 15, 2014

Today’s report from the New York Times trashes the government for “combative tactics” and “cracking down” on protesters, but if you watch the accompanying video, all you see are protesters attacking police, and the police – without venturing forward, defending themselves with water cannon and tear gas.

One can criticize the decision of the government to block the march from going to hostile territory, but given the continuous presence of violent elements among the protestors, and that Venezuela is a country with a very high homicide rate and many armed civilians, it could have been the prudent thing to do. The government also believes, with some justification, that these protests seek to provoke violence in order to de-legitimize the government. Their stated goal is to overthrow the democratically elected government, and given that the vast majority of the country is against the protests, this really is their only chance of getting anywhere. And the government also knows that the media (both national private and international) will generally blame them for any violence.

In the United States, and especially here in Washington DC, you have to get a permit for marches like this, and they are often denied or re-routed; and if you try to defy this the police will generally beat you and throw you in jail. And these are actually peaceful protests here.

As for the violence so far associated with the protests since they started on February 12, the statistics show that more people have died at the hands of protesters than security forces:

Of the 29 people killed (full details here),

— 3 appear to be protesters allegedly killed by security forces; 1 other was killed by security forces but it’s not clear if he was a protester.

— 3 appear to be protesters allegedly killed by civilians (the opposition always alleges that these civilians are somehow taking orders from the government, but there has not been any evidence linking the government to any killings by armed civilians; and in a country where there are on average more than 65 homicides per day, it is most likely that these armed civilians are acting on their own).

— 11 civilians appear to have died at the hands of protestors: three of them shot, and the rest killed by various barricades or other obstructions (e.g. motorcyclist beheaded by wire allegedly strung by protesters).

— 3 national guard appear to have been killed by protesters

— 1 pro-government activist appears to have been killed by security forces

— 6 have died in circumstances that are too unclear to determine if they were really related to protests, but they are often included in press reports.

At least 14 security officers have been arrested and remain in jail for alleged violence against protesters, including the incidents described above.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Crimean govt: Referendum website downed by cyber-attack from US

RT | March 16, 2014

The official website of the Crimean referendum is down due to a cyber-attack that originated from the US, Crimean authorities say.

The exact location from which the website’s servers were attacked was Illinois University, Crimean minister of information and mass communications Dmitry Polonsky told Itar-Tass news agency.

“This place turned out to be the Illinois University at Urbana-Champaign. A massive scanning of the servers took place from there before the attack,” Polonsky said.

The assault started during the night (2300 GMT Saturday). At 1000 GMT Sunday, the referendum2014.ru site still wasn’t functioning.

Polonsky stressed that the referendum website has been “DDoS-attacked regularly since its launch.” The portal with .ua domain was replaced with .ru after several attacks.

The referendum is taking place in Crimea, with the vote reported to be peaceful and with high turnout, according to both international observers and Crimean authorities.

On Friday, major Russian government web resources were attacked with DDoS malware – those included the Russian president’s website, as well as those of the Foreign Ministry and the Central Bank.

Also, state media websites – the Channel One and Russia-24 TV channels – were under attack, reportedly from Kiev. The targeted Russian media said the attacks were linked to their editorial policy in covering Ukraine.

Finally, on the same day, an attempted radio-electronic attack on Russian TV satellites from the territory of Western Ukraine was recorded by the Ministry of Communications.

DDoS is the kind of cyber-attack during which requests are sent to the attacked website from many computers, usually virus-infected.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian forces in “full control” of Yabrud

Al-Akhbar | March 16, 2014

BiM0qKRCQAAsm3ySyrian troops on Sunday seized full control of the rebel bastion Yabrud in the strategic Qalamoun region near the Lebanese border, Syrian state media reported.

“Our brave armed forces have full control over Yabrud in Damascus province and are combing through the town and removing explosive devices placed by terrorists,” state television said, citing a military source.

Capturing Yabrud, the last major rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, would help President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route linking his Mediterranean coastal stronghold with the capital Damascus, and choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon.

A military source told Reuters that the rebels had pulled out of Yabrud around dawn, a day after pro-government forces had entered eastern districts of the town and captured several strategic hilltops.

A fighter in Yabrud from al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, confirmed to Reuters the rebels had decided to pull out and said they were heading towards nearby villages including Hosh Arab, Rankos and Fleita.

He said they did not plan to withdraw across the Lebanese border to Arsal, a crossing point 20 kilometers (13 miles) to the northwest which rebels and refugees have used regularly.

The government has been making incremental gains along the land route as well as around Damascus and Aleppo in the past months, regaining the initiative in a conflict entering its fourth year.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

What A Destructive Wall Street Owes Young Americans

By Ralph Nader | March 14, 2014

Wall Street’s big banks and their financial networks that collapsed the U.S. economy in 2008-2009, were saved with huge bailouts by the taxpayers, but these Wall Street Gamblers are still paid huge money and are again creeping toward reckless misbehavior. Their corporate crime wave strip-mined the economy for young workers, threw them on the unemployment rolls and helped make possible a low-wage economy that is draining away their ability to afford basic housing, goods, and services.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is declaring huge bonuses for their executive plutocrats, none of whom have been prosecuted and sent to jail for these systemic devastations of other peoples’ money, the looting of pensions and destruction of jobs.

Just what did they do? Peter Eavis of the New York Times provided a partial summary – “money laundering, market rigging, tax dodging, selling faulty financial products, trampling homeowner rights and rampant risk-taking – these are some of the sins that big banks have committed in recent years.” Mr. Eavis then reported that “regulators are starting to ask: Is there something rotten in bank culture?”

The “rot” had extended long ago to the regulators whose weak laws were worsened by weak enforcement. Veteran observer of corporate criminality, former Texas Secretary of Agriculture and editor of the Hightower Lowdown newsletter, Jim Hightower writes:

“Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating U.S. trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishment you’d get?

How about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!”

Hightower was referring to Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, “the slick CEO who has fostered a culture of thievery during his years as a top executive at JPMorgan, leading to that shameful litany of crime.”

Shame? Dimon doesn’t know how to spell it. “I am so damn proud of this company. That’s what I think about when I wake up every day” he said in October, 2013.

Millions of young Americans (called Millennials, between ages 18 and 33) should start agitating through demonstrations, demand petitions and put pressure on the bankers and members of Congress. First the plutocrats and their indentured members of Congress should drop their opposition to a transaction tax on Wall Street trading. A fraction of a one percent sales tax on speculation in derivatives and trading in stocks (Businessweek called this “casino capitalism”) could bring in $300 billion a year. That money should go to paying off the student debt which presently exceeds one trillion dollars. Heavy student debt is crushing recent graduates and alarming the housing industry. For example, people currently between the ages of 30 to 34 have a lower percentage of housing ownership than this age group has had in the past half century.

A Wall Street transaction tax was imposed in 1914 and was more than doubled in 1932 to aid recovery from the Great Depression before it was repealed in 1966. But the trading volume then was minuscule compared to now with computer-driven trading velocity. A tiny tax – far less than state sales taxes on necessities – coupled with the current huge volume of trading can free students from this life-misshaping yoke of debt.

Some countries in Europe have a securities transaction tax and they also offer their students tuition-free university education to boot. They don’t tolerate the same level of greed, power and callous indifference to the next generation expressed by the monetized minds of the curled-lipped Wall Street elders that we do.

What about young people who are not students? The Wall Street tax can help them with job-training and placement opportunities, as well as pay for tuition for technical schools to help them grow their skills.

A good many of the thirty million Americans stuck in a wage range lower than the minimum wage in 1968, adjusted for inflation, (between $7.25 and $10.50) are college educated, in their twenties and thirties, and have no health insurance, no paid sick leave and often no full-time jobs.

A youth movement with a laser-beam focus, using traditional forms of demonstration and connecting in person, plus social media must come down on Wall Street with this specific demand. Unfortunately, while Occupy Wall Street started an important discussion about inequality, they did not advance the transaction tax (backed vigorously by the California Nurses Association), when they were encamped near Wall Street and in the eye of the mass media in 2011. A missed opportunity, but not a lost opportunity. Fighting injustice has many chances to recover and roar back.

It is time for, young Americans to act! Push Congress to enact a Wall Street speculation tax to help roll back your student debt and give you additional opportunities that are currently denied to you by the inside bank robbers who never had to face the sheriffs. They owe you.

As William C. Dudley, the eminent president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently said of Wall Street – “I think that they really do have a serious issue with the public.” Yes, penance and future trustworthiness enforced by the rule of law.
nowhere.

Young America, you have nothing to lose but your incessant text messages that go nowhere.

Start empowering yourselves, one by one, and then connect by visiting Robin Hood Tax.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy and the Surveillance Stand-Off

Feinstein and the CIA

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | March 15, 2014

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s blistering attack on the CIA’s conduct in searching the computers used by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was deemed a remarkable salvo. The search was engendered by the Committee’s official request for a final version of the named “Internal Panetta Review”. The Review had been created for internal use by the CIA as a record of assessing what documents should be turned over to the Committee in connection with its investigation of the torture program. Once the CIA got wind that their precious internal documentation was finding its way into the hands of the committee, the hackers got itchy.

Senator Feinstein herself charged the CIA with violating the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Executive Order 12333. This raises the first problem. The CFAA is a legislative creation that exempts authorised law enforcement and intelligence activities. Legal commentary from former Chief Counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence, Chris Donesa at Lawfare (March 12) puts the question as whether “the CIA’s investigation and search was in fact ‘lawfully authorised’ or merely a pretext for deliberate efforts to obstruct or interfere with the SSCI investigation.”

The point is valid – after all, the CIA may well have been doing what it is empowered to do – snoop, hack and conduct “counter” intelligence activities, even against a Congressional committee. A gray area exists in the CFAA as to the rights of access set by the owner and operator of the necessary computers. The Washington political establishment have only themselves to blame if that was the case. The demon is merely consuming its creators.

One thing Donesa is willing concede is that the agreement and understanding between the CIA and the SSCI was significant in its violation. In so doing, it has raised questions touching on the separation of powers “and, more importantly, the budget and authorities of any Agency that dares to breach it.” He is concerned, in fact, that the SSCI was also rather cheeky, scurrying off with documents at points befitting the CIA’s own conduct. A subpoena might have been sought, but was conspicuously lacking. Feinstein herself alluded to such behaviour, largely because the CIA had shown form in destroying evidence, notably videotapes.

There have been occasional remarks that the CIA would have been justified in chasing down the source of leaks in the event that a confidential document had found its way into “unauthorised” channels. Sometime in 2010, Feinstein claims that SSCI staff accessed documents connected with the Panetta Review. Feverish speculation is making its way around the intelligence traps as to whether that access was warranted, the result of intentional disclosure by the CIA, or an illicit revelation of a whistleblower.

Given the CIA’s well established reputation for gold medal incompetence, it might very well be that the agency enabled, quite unwittingly, the Committee access to the Review documents. The jury may well be out on that one for some time to come. In either case, be it the whistleblower thesis, or that of unwitting disclosure, the episode has brushed up, if not scraped, a good deal of constitutional gunk. James Madison would not so much be turning as standing up in his grave.

Not all have warmed to Feinstein’s agitated response. A split has developed in Senate ranks. Republicans are concerned, but many would prefer to await the findings of a full investigation into the matter. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was particularly concerned. “If what they’re saying is true about the CIA this is Richard Nixon stuff. This is dangerous to democracy. Heads should roll. People should go to jail, if it’s true.” Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was less certain. “Right now we don’t know what the facts are” (NPR, March 11).

Neither Feinstein, nor the CIA, can claim much of a high ground in this debate. The SSCI was the subject of a hacking enterprise, a snooping venture that would have been appropriate for the Senator in other cases. In fact, the rationale employed by the CIA was the very one that she has been defending with almost manic determination. If classified documents find their way into certain hands (that is, the likes of Edward Snowden), revealing the extent of state abuse, the messenger is the one at fault.

Given Feinstein’s legislative efforts to shore up the surveillance state, and her inflexible stance in limiting reform to the intelligence community, this would have come as a rude, yet richly deserved rebuke. In Snowden’s own words on the episode, this involved “an elected official [who] does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies” only to be scandalized “when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.”

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment