This morning, The New Yorker launched Strongbox, an online place where people can send documents and messages to the magazine, and we, in turn, can offer them a reasonable amount of anonymity. It was put together by Aaron Swartz, who died in January, and Kevin Poulsen.
This has lots of interesting promise, though it’ll be *more* interesting when a non-US group of journalists use the system (the code will be open sourced). Frankly, given the history of American courts, I don’t think that leaking to a US publication is a terribly good idea at the moment if you want to remain anonymous.
With drones, the question is how long before the dozens of states with the aircraft can arm and then operate a weaponized version. “Pretty much every nation has gone down the pathway of, ‘This is science fiction; we don’t want this stuff,’ to, ‘OK, we want them, but we’ll just use them for surveillance,’ to, ‘Hmm, they’re really useful when you see the bad guy and can do something about it, so we’ll arm them,’ ” Singer said. He listed the countries that have gone that route: the United States, Britain, Italy, Germany, China. “Consistently, nations have gone down the pathway of first only surveillance and then arming.
It’s the creeping use, combined with perceptions of citizens’ inability to affect government behavior that, combined, arguably are provoking resistance to drones in Canada and the US.
The Guardian has an excellent bit of coverage on UK-led rendition practices. These practices entailed collaborating with Libya and China to turn over members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gaddafi organization. Ian Cobain, the journalist, precisely notes the kinds of experiences that UK and American agents subjected members of the organization to during their capture and transit to Libya.
It’s a harrowing read, but important, as it details the significance and associated dangers of the state’s secret extension of powers. It also recognizes that states will ‘turn’ on individuals and groups that they had once supported on the basis of building economic relations with a new ‘friend’. Perhaps most ominously, the article outlines how the secret court processes - where neither the accused nor their counsel are permitted to view or argue about evidence against the accused - have had their rulings ignored. Even the judges in these secret cases cannot impose their power on the state, indicating that arms of the government are entirely divorced from the accountability required for democratic institutions to (normatively) survive.
The only way to stop these kinds of practices is for the public to stop quietly ignoring the erosion of their democracies, civil liberties, and basic freedoms. It remains unclear how this can be done, but given the expansion of the state’s perception of its executive powers, it is imperative that citizens vigorously and actively begin protecting their democracies before the last shreds of democracy are truly lost.