Defending Defense

drones in philippines

Philippines moves into the drone age; joint exercise with U.S. forces

We have two interesting cases tracking together. One is in the United States, the other in the Philippines. Both fall under the category of “Foreign Affairs and Defense”.

  • The United States is pursuing a hero or a traitor who revealed top secret NSA (National Security Agency) anti-terrorist programs. He is a hero to privacy advocates and traitor to those who believe the Feds are earnestly working to defend Americans from terrorists.
  • The Philippines is contemplating if there is a way to increase the U.S. and Japanese military presence in the Philippines without running afoul of the Constitution. This to offset Chinese pushiness in the West Philippine Sea.

We live in an open society. All sides of an issue can express a view. The media thrive on sensationalism, so they go for the biggest, juiciest conflicts and elevate them to the front pages. If they have an opportunity to play “face off” between Senator Enrile and President Aquino on the military base matter, that is front page stuff. Or Obama vs. Hong Kong and Russia and Ecuador on the Snowden matter. Or Europe being spied on by the U.S.

But the headlines are not the whole story. They are just a titillating cut at it. Beyond the front pages, a lot of hard, earnest, non-confrontational work is going on as government agencies do their job, and it is wise to recognize that the tenor of most of that work is constructive and well-intended. These incidental conflicts will get worked out in due course and we ought not obsess over them and take them as representing the whole of the defense effort.

Let me offer some observations on the two defense cases and invite you to offer up your own shadings.

The Snowden Imbroglio

  • imbroglio (noun)  [im-brohl-yoh]  1. a misunderstanding or disagreement, etc. of a complicated or bitter nature, as between persons or nations. 2. an intricate and perplexing state of affairs; a complicated or difficult situation. 3. a confused heap. [Source: dictionary.com] 

To me, there are two important concepts to consider to determine whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor, or something in between.

  1. Why is the U.S. government running programs that are to some extent intrusive into American private dealings? Or European affairs?
  2. What is the “reality” of the observer? That is, what is the historical, educational, cultural, personal or psychological setting that shades his opinion?

Privacy is important. We all like it. Laws are written to protect it. It’s a good thing.

Privacy invasions occur more and more frequently in our data-intense world. We subscribe to Facebook and Facebook goads us into identifying more friends by digging into our relationships and our school or work history and capturing as many phone numbers and e-mail addresses as they can. On the streets, our friends all have cams on their phones and our images are captured and sent where we never expected them to go. Google is busy tracking every click so they can aim ads at us better. Corporations are compiling smart mailing lists from every data cue they can acquire. Supermarkets are tracking our purchases. We are recorded in many places, like it or not, volunteer for it or not.

And the Federal government is very likely scanning our telephone calls for patterns (do we connect with terrorists?) and scanning overseas e-mails for possible contacts with terrorists.

The complaint emerging from the Snowden revelations is that the Fed scanning is massive and done without our knowledge. The implication is that it is “spying” and it is out of control. Big Brother, if you will.

What I find missing from the complaints is recognition of the PURPOSE of the programs. The critics generally don’t even consider that there is a reason as to why these programs exist, and they avoid saying what THEY would do to protect Americans from terrorists. So I consider most of them to be little more than cheap shots. Complaints offering no alternatives and accepting no accountability for defense against terrorism. They express little concern as to what happens if the programs are emasculated or the hunt is called off.

If an American city were to be hit with a dirty nuke, would the privacy advocates step up and say, “yes, we allowed this to happen”?  I’m rather guessing they, as idealists with some vision of a perfectly ordered world, would be first in line to criticize American security agencies for falling down on the job.

For sure, I consider the defense agency work a lot more important than Facebook chatter or Google ads. The government information programs are actually a lot less personally intrusive than those private snoopings, to me. Set the Big Brother fear-mongering aside and we can observe that no Americans knew about the programs because the programs have been run judiciously. No innocents have been indiscriminately hauled off to jail on the basis of telephone sweeps or e-mail scans. But plenty of heat has been applied to terrorists who ended up drone-dead in the hills of Pakistan or jailed in Germany.

I have taken to dismissing the privacy complaints that do not address the defense issue. If they don’t address the REASON for the programs they are complaining about, how can their argument hold any water whatsoever? It is just so much ideological, intellectual falderol.

  • fal·de·ral (noun) [fal-duh-ral] 1. mere nonsense; foolish talk or ideas. 2. a trifle; gimcrack; gew-gaw. [Source: dictionary.com]

Here’s my take on the “spy” programs. I stand in awe – in admiration – of the technological genius behind the telephone and e-mail sweeps. The inquiries don’t really cross the privacy boundary unless the pattern reveals a suspect. Until then, it is just data. If the pattern reveals a suspect, the security agencies are required to get a court warrant. The court warrrant is a double-check on the legitimacy of the inquiry. Only THEN does personal information of any substance hit the table.

These are enormously powerful tools that privacy advocates would have dismantled. Or require be run before our eyes, transparently, which is the same as dismantling them.

You see, I believe governments, and military leaders, MUST conduct business in secret in order to succeed. Or what is the purpose of a “D-Day”?

The question is, how much confidence do we have that programs will not be abused.

And that gets us to the second of my points: where does the observer come from?

The closer the observer is to 9/11, the more supportive that person is likely to be of secret U.S. government acts focused on stopping terrorists. A liberal, civil-rights minded educator in the Philippines is likely to have a very different view than an office worker on the 60th floor of downtown Manhattan who watched the two towers collapse 12 years ago. Especially if the Filipino educator harbors resentments from history, bringing 1898 or 1945 along as a kind of psychological baggage.

An American ex-serviceman is likely to have a different view than someone who promotes a “down with America” agenda. The facts are the same. The perspectives of the observer differ.

And for sure, emerging reports about American spying in Europe are bound to affect credibility and confidence.

But the question I would ask of readers is, what is YOUR proximity to 9/11, and what is your framing of the matter in terms of how you view America? Do you believe your views should be granted a higher standing than the views of people who were – and are – closer to terrorist bombs today? Or a higher standing than the views of voters who have elected the people who oversee NSA?

It is a tough job, this defense against religious fanatics who adopt the tactic that the most carnage possible is in their God’s favor. I personally grant my government FULL latitude to hunt them down, within the laws that exist. I wish the NSA agents well. If they need more information on me, they are welcome to stop by any time. In any way, electronic, satellite, personal visit, phone, computer. If it helps in ANY small way, kindly tell me where I can waive my privacy rights to facilitate your important work. I’d like to help. I really would.

I think it is very dangerous if scandal or screw-ups by security agencies or “whistleblowers” with incredibly egocentric morality are allowed to subvert the mission, to defend Americans.  And I think Americans need to sacrifice a little of themselves to help with the mission.

I liken it to drawing down the blackout shades in London in 1944. An inconvenience, yes. Vitally important, yes.

Inviting the U.S. Military Back to the Philippines

President Aquino seeks to increase the presence of American military in the Philippines and possibly extend similar visitation rights to Japan. The reason is obvious. Thuggish China is sitting her warships in Philippine territory and rattling sabers and missiles as the Philippines moves about in her own seas.

The Philippine position is clear and reasonable: “We want peaceful resolution of the dispute, but we are firm about defending what is rightfully ours.”

A part of the Philippine defense, in the current situation of military weakness in the face of overt threat, is to shore up alliances with nations who support Philippine independence and development.

However, the idea of a return of American soldiers to the Philippines arouses a variety of objections. The leftists decry the loss of sovereignty. The legalists (such as Senator Enrile) cite the Constitutional ban on foreign bases.

The realists counter the objections by citing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as the official document that sets guidelines for temporary visits, and acknowledge that permanent bases are out of the question.

Again, there seem to be two important points to consider in weighing this:

  1. Can the Philippines actually control visiting forces? Or does the visitor (e.g., the U.S.) become the controlling entity?
  2. What is the “reality” of the observer? That is, what is the historical, educational, cultural, personal or psychological setting that shades his opinion?
joint exercise II

Joint training exercise

Teamwork is one part leadership and one part concession to the decisions of another. Both parties here – American and Filipino -need to be able to discuss openly the issues and their respective positions. Any arrangement for more and longer visits ought to be based on specific responsibilities, including the delineation of a set of possible circumstances with agreed roles in responding.

I imagine a joint operating agreement emerging that reads something like this:

  • Joint training exercises will be expanded to include coordinated use of drones, air craft, missiles, defenses against invasion, and water-based commando units.
  • Philippine military forces will engage in no shooting acts against foreign military ships unless those ships are first to fire upon Filipino military troops or civilians.
  • The Philippine Coast Guard may approach any intruding civilian ship within the Philippine EEZ to conduct routine certifications, inspections or seizures. If that civilian ship responds in a hostile manner, or is backed up by military craft, the U.S. Navy will back up the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure the Coast Guard is allowed to conduct its lawful tasks.
  • If foreign ships or aircraft attack Philippine ships, aircraft or Filipino occupied land within the 200 mile EEZ, the U.S. will capture, drive off, or sink those foreign ships or aircraft.
  • Any actions outside this agreed set of responses must have advance Philippine approval.
  • To fulfill its role, the Philippines will establish a command authority that will be empowered to decide quickly and competently on military decisions that may arise.

If the Philippines can’t get specific commitments such as this, then leaders should slow-pedal the matter of visits. Without specific U.S. commitments that meet Philippine needs, the Philippines would risk falling into a subordinate relationship in the partnership.

I suspect that the matter of how long ships and aircraft visit, how fuel and armaments are held (e.g., held by the Philippines with ready access by visiting forces), and similar logistical matters can be crafted between the parties within the auspices of the VFA. Legislative leaders and defense committees should receive regular briefings.

Criticisms should again be considered in terms of viewpoint.

History should be wiped clean. It is not appropriate for Senator Enrile to judge current needs in light of 1991 decisions because he was a part of 1991 decisions. It is appropriate for him to judge current needs in light of how best to preserve Philippine sovereignty and defense TODAY.

Criticisms that do not contain a statement of why the visits are being scheduled, or do not provide alternative defense measures that are just as effective as American backing, can be dispensed with as simply so much falderol.

Comments
66 Responses to “Defending Defense”
  1. The Mouse says:

    So much ado about the US and its “colonization” but no one is complaining about the closer Defense ties with Japan to the point of almost allowing Japanese troops. Yknow, the Philippines did not have a good experience with Japan 70 years ago. But heck, that was 70 years ago.

    I suspect this is nothing but political grandstanding. They must be bitter because of the failed coup attempts esp in 1989 (I believe Cory Aquino asked the US for some air cover during the bloodiest coup). This is probably what they’re pissed off. They were not able to take control of the civilian government back then. LOL

    Wait until hostilities happen (God forbid!). These will be the people who will complain that the US or Japan are not doing anything.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, as I was writing this article it came to me that many complainers are “ideological purists”. ANYTHING that goes wrong is offensive to them. It is rather an unrealistic point of view. For sure they never heard of Murphy’s Law, or they somehow believe they are immune and therefore become disdainful of those who make decisions that turn out badly. The more I think about it, the creepier it becomes . . .

  2. The Mouse says:

    I propose that these grandstanding politicians be the one to be placed in the front line should hostilities happen. This will test their so called “nationalism” — Ang mamatay ng dahil sa yo.

  3. JosephIvo says:

    Yes on all accounts, but…

    What I miss are checks and balances in the NSA case, if they exist, they are too secretive too. I could trust 98% of your civil servants but who controls the greed of the other 2%? Is none of this needed information leaking in the wrong hands, used for the wrong reasons? When a contractor like Snowden gets so much access, what about the greedy rotten apples? Information is money, unlimited information is an unlimited temptation.

    In the second part the non verbal’s in the picture are resentful. Who is leading this partnership, the black American, the Latino American, the little brown friends or the tall guy in the middle? By the way, non verbal’s are universal and seldom lie.

    A last point, if the NSA also tries to prevent the next massacre in Ruanda or Cambodia then they are welcome too, with all their secrecy.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that is the big risk for a big program, that it will be abused by a malcontent, say a Snowden who set out to bribe or sell info to the Russians or get rich rather than simply pull a morality stunt.

      The check at the macro level is with the Senate and House intelligence committees, and I know that the Chair of the Senate committee (Feinstein) said in no uncertain terms the committee was briefed and aware of the programs. She also gave voice to the opinion that Snowden was a traitor. She is from my former home state of California and is one of the old school diplomatic, earnest, honest senators who does not play games. In other words, highly respected.

      The checks in the trenches are obviously more problematic. Snowden evidently embellished his resume to get the job, and once on the job, set out as a hacker would to accumulate as much of what he considered “wrongdoing” as possible. That is, he went outside his job to get and steal information. He will not see home again in a long, long, long time, I suspect, because if he ever sets foot on American soil he is in the clink and they’ll toss the key. The security firms doing the clearances processed something like 20,000 clearances, and they missed on him. Have they missed on others? Possible.

      It falls to the supervisors to monitor these things, and clearly no one was monitoring Snowden. I suspect a few jobs will be lost over this one.

      Still, what’s a security agency to do if tasked to not ever ever ever let another 9/11 happen. If I had the job, I’d be running every data trap and e-mail scan known to technological wizards and muttering “screw you” to all the moralists who aren’t accountable for millions of lives. I’m guessing that’s why the programs are so aggressive.

      I doubt they will pull back. It is their legitimate job not to. Even if there are statistically going to be creeps and moralists and maybe even thieves and spies hired by human error.

      .

    • JosephIvo says:

      93% of the German companies lost money due to industrial espionage according Corporate Trust cited in Der Speigel. Mostly these originated in Russia but 25% came from the USA, 10% from Asia. The price tag of all these loses they estimate at 4.2 billion in 2012. But some others estimate that the total cost is closer to 80 billion a year in Germany alone. This give an indication of the importance of the “security industry” for businesses alone, not talking about the effects of weaker positions in trading negotiations between nations. Many prominent Germans can not believe that PRISM was limited to national security concerns only.

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, I would put this in a different set than the two security programs (data-traps and foreign e-mail scans). It has been peculiar to me how tepid the U.S. response was to Chinese hacking of American newspapers and their apparent avid theft of weapons information as well as industrial secrets. I concluded the U.S. could not respond with outrage because American cyber-work is also very active and China is a big target. Government work.

        Now I would suspect that most of the 25% mentioned by Der Speigel is not government theft, but private industry working for competitive benefit. It would be good to get that distinction clear.

        I find it disheartening to read of U.S. government spying on close allies like Germany, and some of the evidently harsh things said by America about Germany. Again, however, I’m guessing if we could get a look at German diplomatic correspondence, meant for private eyes, we would read some very harsh things about America,too, and that Germany would gladly take any piece of information available to enhance a trade position or any other positions. In other words, there is truth to the American point of view that nations have security agencies to gather such intelligence. The U.S. was just too aggressive, I think, if the tales be true.

    • JosephIvo says:

      Another interesting viewpoint. Most secrete services are very restricted in spying on their own citizens, but have little or no restrictions in spying abroad. So the obvious thing to do is to ask a colleague in a partner country to spy on your citizens in exchange for you spying on theirs, called exchange of information. Dixit German insiders in Der Spiegel.

  4. manuel buencamino says:

    I agree that the American security establishment must protect the homeland from terrorist attacks. However, I am not sure that carte blanche spying is the most effective way to do it. There are several fundamental weaknesses to the snooping program. Number one problem is snooping has been privatized. It is now a billion dollar business. You know what happens when profits become the engine of national security. Number two and closely related to the first is how sure are we there is a real requirement for such massive snooping to thwart terrorist attacks? If the government could lie about WMDs to justify a war that brought about untold profits for the arms industry and private contractors, how can we be certain that this whole thing is not just another business model? Number three, what evidence is there that the entire program is cost effective? Is there no other less intrusive and less expensive way to gather intel on terrorists? The Boston marathon bomber slipped through the massive dragnet, didn’t he? Four, although terrorist attacks did not become commonplace in the homeland, they have continued unabated in other countries. So it would seem to me that the anti-terrorist snooping is more about securing the homeland than wiping out terrorists. Fine. The US must keep itself safe. However, because the snooping is global I assume that the US also monitors planned terrorist attacks in many places elsewhere. Why are those attacks not foiled? They spy on America, they spy on the world, to fight terrorism and yet it is the homeland that benefits from the spying. Even Americans abroad are not safe. If the spying is so good it has prevented attacks on the homeland, did the spying miss the planned attacks on those US missions abroad?

    My point is the government could be lying. Snowden’s exposé opens the issue to a democratic debate.

    The tension caused by Snowden’s action comes from the struggle between a national security establishment that says “trust us to do what we think is good for you” and citizens who believe in an open and democratic society. Hopefully there will be a national debate.

    Both sides have valid arguments. Both sides are cognizant that neither is absolutely right. So there is room for gives. The question then is degrees of gives. How much leeway is leeway enough for the national security establishment? How much privacy is privacy enough for civilians? Those can be agreed upon after a thorough discussion of the issue. That is the contribution of Snowden to democracy.

    • Joe America says:

      You make strong arguments. Especially the farming out of security to private companies that have motives other than national defense.

      We have not seen a list of attacks NSA people say have been spoiled. I would like to think this is one, just coming across today: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/07/canadian_authorities_thwart_pressure_cooker_bomb_plot

      The Marathon bombers were clearly a miss and there appears sufficient information was there to make them suspects.

      I was also embarrassed to hear today that the NSA chief admitted he had not been accurate in failing to report the phone trap project to Senator Feinstein’s oversight committee. I have been arguing that checks are in place.

      I think the debate is good. I think a superb defensive tool was perhaps rendered impotent (phone data traps). That is a shame. The debate is healthy, agreed. I hope Snowden goes to jail for a long long time. There was a better way to do this if he had the best interest of his nation at heart.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        Just curious. Would you have thrown Dan Ellsberg in jail too?

        • Joe America says:

          Wow, tough question. He copied and released classified information that America’s top leaders were lying about Viet Nam and other matters. In that sense, he was a true whistle-blower. Snowden revealed what I think are valid terrorist-fighting tools, earnestly applied, not misdeeds. If Ellsberg’s trial had not been so mucked up by the Nixon gang, if I were judge and jury, I’d have found him guilty, but with extenuating circumstances, and ordered him released. A part of the extenuating circumstances would have been that Ellsberg knew he was committing a crime, and was prepared to pay the price. He did not run (heh, though he did hide). Plus, he tried to get congressmen to report the facts; they were the legitimate “legal authorities” he whistleblew to. Snowden went to the Guardian. He did not try to follow any legal path.

          Zinger of a question.

    • J says:

      Interesting points, MB.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. On the bases issue, there is no question that the Philippines should and must organize defense pacts with any nation against Chinese threats.

    2. On Snowden, if the issue is couched in terms of Privacy vs. Security, Security is paramount.

    2.1. But the related issues of secrecy and misuse of information are real.

    2.2. Granted that secrecy was necessary, denial of the fact and of the scope of internal surveillance was not.

    2.3. As far as we know, there has been no abuse or misuse but that cannot be guaranteed. We may have confidence in professionals in the government service but not in the politicians. Hoover did keep dossiers on communists — but also on celebrities for ulterior motives. I also recall a lady undercover spy was exposed sometime ago for political purposes.

    3. The American public has couched the issue in the broader terms of Freedom vs. State Infringement. I will not go so far as to say State Control. Freedom not only in terms of freedom from government interference but also in terms of the government’s protection of individual rights.

    3.1. The people who see Snowden as hero see that the PURPOSE of government is not only to protect the lives of citizens but to ensure the freedoms and rights of the individual citizen. The French Revolution gave us Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The genius of the American Revolution was to enshrine these ideals at the level of the ordinary citizen rather than at the level the general citizenry being released from serfdom. To them, for the American government to infringe on those freedoms and rights is a betrayal of the vision of the Founding Fathers.

    4. I tend to lean towards the view that WikiLeaks and Snowden are counteracts – perhaps even necessary counteracts – to the excesses of government. Precisely to preserve the genius of the American Revolution.

    4.1. The custodian is necessary but the custodian is not always right. And the custodian exists for those in custody. There must be a balance. If the pendulum swings too far to one side, balance is lost, chaos results, and energy needs to be unnecessarily expended to correct the swing and to regain equilibrium.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, Assange and Snowden generate healthy discussion, but at what price? Canadian intelligence officers just caught a couple of bombers who copied the Marathon method, which was copied from al qaeda web instructions (see link in my response to MB). I’m imagining that this derives from the requests for information from Google or Microsoft, simply put, “we request a list of every computer that clicks on this site.”

      However the lead was discovered, it saved a lot of lives. The phone data trap that Snowden revealed was, I would guess, one of the most powerful terrorist fighting tools in the arsenal. Because NO ONE knew about it. He deserves a lifetime in jail for that, given that he cares not for the lives of others. More if the US comes under attacks. And the conceptual discussion can be what it will be.

      • edgar lores says:

        The Canadian example is a matter of tracing links, not a matter of scanning calls or emails, although the US has claimed some success with PRISM. Granted.

        But what is the price of security? One may quantify it in terms of lives, but whose lives? Or one may qualify it in terms of fear, which is unquantifiable.

        And what is the cost of liberty? I am not sure that it can be quantified, but many have died in the cause of freedom.

        So the true solution, if any, would be to look at the roots of insecurity and to remove them. Otherwise we are caught in this circular imbroglio of unending violence.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      J.Edgar Hoover is now institutionalized under NSA. Hoover used the intelligence against his real and perceived enemies so did those above him. Problem is the Americans never knew who is using these.

  6. Very good article! On the point of the “Snowden question”; He’s a TRAITOR. He didn’t stand up IN the United States making his case. He didn’t face a Federal Court to defend his Case. No. He stole all the Intel files he could and ran! I would not be surprised if the recent disclosure of US Intelligence “spying” on US News Media outlets in search of a potential “leak” was actually all about Snowden. In any case, he is in for a big let-down. I’m sure the price for entering Hong Kong (and then departing) was a look and copy of his files by the Chinese Government. The Russians almost certainly have done the same. The big let-down for Snowden will be if (or when) he is able to enter a foreign country under Political Assylum only to find out that these Banana Republic States ONLY want him to create a similar program (to the NSA’s) in order for said leaders can “spy” on their own people. He’s a traitor and worse… He’s an amateur!

    On the US/Japan question; The Philippines is incapable of defending its own borders. This is an undisputed fact. Since this country is either unable or unwilling to spend the enormous amounts of money it will take to properly train & arm the military, the ONLY option is to seek assistance. In the event of (lets say) China invading and occupying ALL of the “disputed” islands, is the Philippines willing to wait the 72hrs or so it would take for the 7th Fleet to arrive on scene from Guam or… Will they simply allow common sense to prevail and offer the US & Japan use of bases here? The answer is so obvious its funny. Like you have stated in this article; all these critics, opponents and protestors against ANY US presence in the Philippines offer ZERO alternatives to effectively defending this country.

    • Joe America says:

      Say hey, Jet. You nailed exactly the point I have been trying to get into words but couldn’t quite get there. Snowden is an “amateur”. That’s it exactly. Immature in his thinking all the way, and now playing the victim card. Thanks for that characterization.

      And I agree that the US/Japan issue is pretty easy to figure out. The only people who can’t, I believe are extremists like the Bayan Muna idiot ideologues who still talk in 1950’s leftist commie-babble.

      • You know… NSA surveillance programs from Echelon to now can not even come close to the amount of information obtained and used by J. Edgar Hoover back in his day. When you think about it, people all over the world give up more personal information to social networks than the NSA or Hoover could even hope to gather on their own. I, for one, have no problem with the NSA collecting my data unless downloading porn becomes illegal. I know it is the National Security Agency and all the other branches of the Intelligence Community that will do whatever it takes to locate, track and target person/s who wish to do harm to the United States or our allies. I am not a terrorist nor do I associate with terrorists therefore, I know my “collected data” will go to the “good guy file”.

        Side note: Although it is regrettable that the incident has resulted in several South American countries becoming livid at the US; you have to admit, that was COOL the way they diverted the Bolivian President’s plane to Austria! I’m still laughing about it! “America! F#@k Yeah!”

        • Joe America says:

          That is the part that stumps me. People willingly splatter themselves across the internet, and allow companies to work with their most sensitive data, but object if the government is using it to fight terrorism. Outsiders who bear envy or grudges against the U.S. I understand. Their glasses are on crooked. But common Americans who will, as a matter of some esoteric principle such as privacy, object to or interfere with their government’s important defense work, is beyond me. I think we need to institute the requirement that all young men and women spend two years in the military so they get a grasp of what it means to commit to your country heart, soul and life, if need be.

          Lazy pampered sluggards.

          • Indeed! The damage Snowden has done could very well have set us back years insofar as intelligence gathering is concerned. The NSA (and other Agencies) have to assume ALL of the intel Snowden took with him is “in the open”. The Chinese copied it. The Russians Copied it. You can bet Wikileaks already has it and will release it in parts over the next 12 months. Meanwhile back at the (terrorist) ranch; the bad guys have already adjusted their tactics and communication procedures.

            President Clinton (Bill not Hilliary) had a great idea which, I hope, is still in use. College/University Students who avail of Loan Programs can pay off their debt by giving two years of service in either the Navy, Marines, Army, the Peace Corps or the US Airforce which is the closest thing to civilian life (LOL).

          • Joe America says:

            Good shot at Air Force. 😮

    • JosephIvo says:

      Isn’t this a “Fruits of the poisonous tree” discussion? Forget about spying, it all comes from a traitor. As Joe said it all depends on perception. It sounds you have the luxury to refuse the fruit because your are well fed and then it is easy to take tough stance. As a European we are at the receiving side and things look quite different, it still looks like “All power comes out of the barrel of a gun”, “we Americans have the strongest army so we are allowed to do whatever seems fits us”. Thanks mr. Snowden for helping us to remember this, amateur or not.

      Not as a 1950′s leftist commie-babble, but as a 1960′s leftist socialist-babble, I still believe that money for education will help the Philippines more than money for weapons, that talking is always more effective than fighting, you’ll have to talk in the end anyhow, that Mandela was right when he said “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” I admire the patient way Secretary Rosario is getting there, getting an agreement on talks for a “Code of Conduct” now. And you cannot blame the Filipinos at the same time for not having national feelings and for refusing any (indeed perceived) foreign intervention. Suspect that Jetlag is the guy in the middle of the “Joint Training Exercise” picture above, confident because of the biggest gun, self assured, too hell with this leftist commie-babbles niceties, we have a job to do.

      But have a nice National Holyday anyhow.

      • Joe America says:

        Jet will opine, I am sure. Let us presume that you head NSA and are empowered to kill or continue telephone data traps and e-mail sweeps of overseas e-mails. Your charter is clear. Don’t let another 9/11, or worse, occur. You have heard the privacy outcry and read the Snowden commentaries. Do you continue the telephone data traps and e-mail sweeps or curtail them?

        So you prefer butter (education) over guns. Many do. The only problem with the approach is that OTHER nations don’t go by that priority.

        I also think Secretary del Rosario is doing a stellar job, and so is President Aquino. Both have to tread a difficult line that in the animal world that China inhabits, to be weak is to be eaten. They also have to abide by the Constitution and do this without war. I long ago suggested President Aquino deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, and with each passing day I admire his approach even more.

        As for America speaking with guns and muscle, we have to go back and unwind exactly how that came to be, and identify the mistakes (a few) from the honorable accomplishments (a lot). Without a “top cop” favoring freedom and democracy, the world is chaos or totalitarian. President Obama is giving the rest of the world the chance to step forward. But he won’t do this at risk to the well-being of Americans. That’s his job. No one gave him the choice of guns or butter. He got both, and the butter was pretty rancid when he took over.

        • Joe America says:

          I would add that during WWII many Americans were screaming “butter” whilst President Roosevelt wanted “guns”. As a result, America was late into the war and many Europeans died; and, as it turned out, many Americans never left Europe, having been buried there. Roosevelt was able to edge America into war by working around the edges of the butter program (Lend Lease) until attacks on American boats convinced the butter people that we’d better fight.

        • JosephIvo says:

          In one argument we hear that the second amendment is there so protect the citizens from a government gone wild, in the next we hear that the government can do whatever to protect us (if needed via a detour of befriended spying agencies) from citizens gone wild. For the first there must be limits, it is clear that an atomic bomb does not belong in the hands of individual citizens, neither do rocket launchers nor assault weapons, may-be you can discuss handguns… if there are enough checks and balances. For the second reading all mails, listening to all conversations, tracking the movements of everybody, directly or via befriended services and private companies seems a little too much. Luring terrorist to fanatic websites and tracing their contacts seems acceptable if there too are enough checks and balances.

          This country spent half the amount on education than their neighbors do, if it wins this argument with the Chinese, if they don’t invest now in education than they certainly will loose the next one, with or without an army.

          And sorry for being emotional, the picture illustrating your article is still on my stomach. It reminds me too much on another one in a magazine of my previous development agency where a white men stand on a heap of rubbish proudly overlooking the installation of a water pump by a group of locals at his feet, beautiful picture, blacks in their traditional dress, with a wide horizon and a colorful sunset. But what the hell was that young engineer doing there? He costs ten times more than an Indian, Bolivian, Philippine engineer equally capable or 100 times more than a local engineer doing the same job. What does he know on how this new pump will be used or misused, how it will affect relationships with neighboring families, how it strengthens a begging mentality… Your photo has the same hidden message, the same arrogant posture of somebody out of place.… On top is it our business to comment on how the Philippines has to think about its past or on how to deal with their neighbors? Shouldn’t we be more moderate and ask what we can learn from them?

          An yes I love and admire the US, only they would be so much more effective if they adjusted their tone so now and then and be more susceptible for local circumstances.

          • Joe America says:

            Interesting reaction to that photo. I placed it there because I thought it would illustrate the Philippines advancing, and you read it as the U.S. lording it over other peoples . . . again. It proves the point that perspective and background of the viewer is everything.

            The second amendment has long outlived its useful life in my opinion. I think guns in individuals’ hands are barbaric. And the kind of citizen spying you illustrate in the case of an NSA gone Strangelove mad simply isn’t what is being done now. The question I have to keep coming back to is, how do you keep Americans safe when there are fanatics about who want to murder them (us; my daughters in the US), fanatics who have no lawful restraint on the guns they own and whose God wants them to nuke innocents? There is a reality to that that all the intellectual debate in the world does not change. You could try to make the “butter” argument to them. See how it flies. I’d suggest not doing it in person.

            The U.S. is in it for defense, not offense. If the defense gets tricky, or messy, or troublesome for Bolivians and others, simply ask those who are up in arms to stop the fanatics from trying to blow up Americans. It is really very simple. If that would get done, we could get back to easy street and unwind the pernicious spy programs. But I certainly don’t want my government to stop aggressively, even ruthlessly, hunting murderers because those who are not in the bombsights don’t like her methods.

          • JosephIvo says:

            … such as hunting terrorists in the Italian and Spanish embassy, and in the European institutions… or was that for juicy information they could pass in return for the information they needed from them on potential American terrorists?

          • Joe America says:

            Let’s put that into a third bucket which I frankly don’t understand yet. But I do understand the first two, the phone data traps and the e-mail scans.

            I think it is best to neither accept the Guardian as the guardian of truth on the matter, nor the Snowden Files as the whole story. Nor the American initial reaction that “everyone does it” as an acceptable conclusion.

            I suspect that this will get worked out, security agency to security agency, head of state to head of state. We probably won’t find out much, unless one of the other states is unhappy with the outcome of the discussions. My guess is that the US will apologize for the things that need to be apologized for, but behind closed doors. And corrective action will be taken and friends will remain friends.

            Bolivia and Venezuela may be more troublesome because speaking to one another is difficult. Burnt bridges and all. Obama will probably put Latin America higher on his foreign affairs agenda.

          • Joe America says:

            And you did not really answer the question, if in charge of NSA, knowing what you know and being responsible for preventing attacks on American soil, would you keep or cancel the phone data traps and e-mail scans on foreign contacts?

          • JosephIvo says:

            Luckily I’m not in charge, but just to answer your question. Assuming this is the most cost effective method, meaning I could evaluate all alternatives, assuming I can trust everybody involved and that I have strong middle management to assure secrecy, assuming the scope is limited to catching terrorists and I have a system in place to prevent scoop creep, assuming I’m convinced that my supervisory body fully understand the technical aspects, the legal consequences, the risks involved, assuming it has a periodic evaluation method, assuming all this I would fully support the program.

            It feels to me that not all of my assumptions are materialized in the current program, that’s why I keep resisting the modalities more than the core principle.

          • Joe America says:

            Good answer. Where did you get your law degree? 🙂

      • “We” Americans do NOT think that way. Actually, MOST of us would prefer our Government to focus on domestic issues. We do not necessarily like being the “World Police Force” but at the same time, we understand the fact that if WE don’t do it, nobody else will. Sometimes its sucks being Numero Uno! Everybody and every nation turns to us to sort out problems where ever they might occur and point the finger of blame when things go wrong whether we were involved in it or not. The entire world is looking to the United States to solve the civil war in Syria. OK. Short of a “No-Fly-Zone” or an all out invasion (which would result in immediate and lasting protests by the same people who looked to us in the first place), anything else we do there will not result in success. Yet, the world looks to the US to solve the issue. The world pleaded with the United States to solve the problems in Somalia but, once things went tits up, then the world blamed us for being there! Like I said, it sometimes it sucks being Numero Uno!

        As for the Philippines you are CORRECT in saying money is better spent on education. So is it the fault of the US that your government desires to strengthen its own defense capabilities? No one is forcing Aquino to buy, lease or receive military aid and equipment! You don’t want US involvement in the disputed islands issue? Walang problema. I wonder how long you’ll hold that stance after the Chinese Navy takes over said islands simply because they have no opposition or reason to do otherwise. However, should that happen, since its NOT about the islands themselves (its all about the shipping lanes), the United States will eventually take a stand by show of force and the issue will be resolved by other means. Only difference is the Philippines will not benefit form the outcome.

        “Suspect that Jetlag is the guy in the middle of the “Joint Training Exercise” picture above, confident because of the biggest gun, self assured, too hell with this leftist commie-babbles niceties, we have a job to do.” … Read this carefully son because this is important! When diplomacy fails and the parties involved have no other option, one side or the other will opt to use force to resolve the conflict. That fact is inevitable. If one side, say the Philippines, has not prepared itself for conflict, then they can either give up or seek assistance. As of now, the ONLY reason the Chinese Navy has not taken over each and every disputed island in its so-called territory is because of the United States Navy’s 7th Fleet. And while this issue is being negotiated diplomatically, both the Chinese & US forces are standing ready to step in when and ONLY when diplomacy fails! Its called BEING PREPARED!

        Oh! And by the way… The guy in the picture above (holding the drone) is a Marine. I am all NAVY and nothin’ but Navy!

        • Joe America says:

          Well said, Jet. I’ve been working on perfecting ways to argue by getting others to slip into the shoes of those they condemn. I’d like to put the Guardian editors in the shoes of the NSA chiefs and watch them shit bricks finally understanding they are accountable for something other than running off at the lip.

          And nations that warrant respect are those that stand up, take decisions, and don’t look to others for justification or excuses should the outcomes fail. China is the worst in the world at accepting accountability. The Philippines is historically perhaps second from the bottom.

        • The Mouse says:

          Everyone expects America to be the police — From Japan to the Philippines. Even Japanese officials wanted the US to defend Japan at the height of the Senkakus.

          The US, it seems, is more effective in neutralizing conflicts than the UN. The last time the the UN were PARTIALLY effective was during the Korean war.

          France is even more effective in an African country which I forgot the name than the UN itself.

          The alternative that I can see is the US “dispersing” its military influence through encouraging alliances between its allies. A Philippines-Japan alliance will seem to help contain China and keep sea lanes open as both countries share a lot of geopolitical interests. TBH, I even find it that Japan has taken a further step than the US. Japan is slowly transferring from China to Southeast Asia. Something that the US is largely hesitant to do. Maybe because of the PAC.

          • The Mouse says:

            I think one problem with the UN is that it has so many “international laws” but doesn’t have a way to enforce it. Now, should the ITLOS declare the Chinese/Taiwan claims invalid, what now? China would sure not leave and the UN has nothing to enforce its “international laws”

          • Joe America says:

            Sharp observations this Monday morning (Sunday eve?)? The U.S. carries a whole lot of big sticks, where the U.N. is mostly mouth, and forever divided by the big country, little country divide. Occasionally the U.S. whips the wrong puppy with the sticks, but mostly gets it right.

            As for ITLOS, I think your scenario is right. The Philippines will have her territory recognized by ITLOS, and China will dismiss the finding as wrong, and stay where she it. But it is a required step toward Stage II wherein the Philippines can defend her rights by confronting Chinese civilian craft in her waters. If Chinese military craft back her civilian craft, I would expect American military craft to ensure that Philippine Coast Guard is allowed to do her legal duty without interference by Chinese military.

            It is either that, or a Peace Fleet approach, or roll over. That gives us A, B, and C scenarios. A is enforcement of Philippine law in Philippine territory. B is civil protest against Chinese incursions. C is give in to China. I think A is the best approach, but it requires prior assurances from the U.S. that they will back the Coast Guard.

    • edgar lores says:

      No doubt Snowden is a traitor to the US government. But the following questions are pertinent:

      1. Is Snowden a traitor to American ideals?

      2. Is the US violating Snowden’s human rights by actively preventing him from seeking asylum? Note that Article 14 of the UDHR guarantees the right to seek asylum. (Same question applies to Assange.)

      3. Is the US violating human rights in pursuit of security? Not only Snowden revelations but also:
      – Guantanamo
      – TSA body searches at airports
      – Homeland Security detention of citizens re-entering the country and seizure of electronic products
      – US Border Patrol warrantless searches
      – (Snooping on friendly nations)

      4. Is the US in danger of becoming a police state in terms of internal surveillance? An electronic police state at that?

      5. Is the US government justified in taking all these extreme measures to save American lives?

      My answers are:
      1. Perhaps not (per my item 3.1 above in my original post)
      2. Yes – the US prevented Bolivian president’s airplane from entering certain airspaces
      3. Yes
      4. Not yet (but remember McCarthyism)
      5. On the whole – perhaps; but in specifics – no.

      It’s very hard to ask these questions and harder to answer them honestly. Honest.

      • Joe America says:

        1. He has violated some very important ideals (loyalty to country and oath of confidentiality) which trump his views on freedom of expression and privacy.
        2. No. The U.S. is acting within its and international laws. If any criminal could merely claim asylum anywhere at any time, it would be one hellish world. Re. Bolivia, you are taking what papers (suspicions) are reporting as truth. Maybe it would be wise to get the whole story.
        3. Agree.
        4. Agree.
        5. I’d say on some specifics, definitely justified (phone data traps and foreign e-mail scans). I don’t know enough about the alleged European “spying” to comment.

        • Joe America says:

          On 3, body searches are reasonable, guantanamo is not, rendering suspects to other nations for torture is not, boarder patrol warrantless searches is contested in the courts, so not all your listings are inhumane. Again, one must look at the reasons and lay considerable culpability on the people who undertake rash and deadly acts that make the extreme measures LOOK reasonable to law enforcement people.

        • edgar lores says:

          1. There is a view that Snowden is NOT a traitor.

          1.1. A traitor is “one who commits treason”.
          1.2. The US Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
          1.3. Which Enemy has Snowden adhered to or given Aid and Comfort to?
          – The US is not at war with either Russia or China.
          – Snowden’s revelations are to protect the civil rights of US citizens.
          – If Snowden is a traitor, the Enemy of the US government is its own people.

          2. The UDHR right to seek asylum may not be invoked by common law criminals.
          2.1. What is the whole story about the denial of airspace to the plane of the Bolivian president? Bolivia has made the charge and no country involved has denied the suspicions it had to do with Snowden.
          2.2. France has apologized to Bolivia.

          • Joe America says:

            1. The U.S. is in a war against terrorism, and terrorists are the enemy to whom Snowden has given aid and comfort. 1.3 is rendered moot.

            2. Here’s what the prosecution will show: Snowden doctored his resume to get the job he wanted, one that would give him access to the files he wanted. He signed an oath of confidentiality knowing he would break it. He hunted for all the files he could find that would prove damaging to the United States. He stole them and flew to a foreign country where he released the information to the public and gave copies of the documents to people who were not entitled to have them. He engaged in outright lying, theft, and intentional acts to damage the nation in which he is a citizen. His revelations destroyed the secrecy that made the programs so effective. The prosecution will illustrate by showing how the programs worked, using examples declassified for this purpose. He will spend a lifetime in a US jail.

            The U.S. response to the media on the Bolivia affair was “ask France and Portugal”, not us. Why would you choose to believe the Bolivian sources and make assumptions based on “no one denied”? To deny or to approve is reveal classified information and no one will go there.

            France said they had no idea the Bolivian President was aboard the plane but suspected that Snowden was. When it was learned it was the Bolivian President’s plane, they gave permission to fly through. Today it was announced that France also has “spy” programs like those used in the U.S. to identify terrorists and criminals with phone traps and e-mail scans.

            The U.S. message to France on the matter of spying on friendly nations was, considering how extensive your own security programs are, maybe you should not be putting so much outrage toward the American programs. I suspect that message went elsewhere because only the media are now riding the morality freight on the matter. Protests from European governments have gone silent. The media are not responsible for protecting lives, so they can rumble and ramble and speculate.

            The test of priority on privacy and spying and defense comes with the simple question, if you headed the NSA and were tasked to protect Americans, would you do all that you could do to protect them, within the laws, or would you do something less? That question ought to be asked and answered by every editorial board in the world.

            The matter of spying on friendly nations is new and needs vetting. I suspect it will die because it is common practice, and after a few meetings and apologies and agreements. As the Wiki revelations have died of importance with time, apology and care, so will this. There is an exigency to this spying business that all nations understand. Hegemony is not the sole province of the United States.

          • edgar lores says:

            1. Good point. So the war is on Terror, and the enemy is the Terrorist. It is a stateless enemy.

            1.1. It can be conceded that Snowden has betrayed his employer, the NSA, by revealing official secrets. It may also be conceded also that he had ulterior motives from the start. So he can be charged and thrown into jail for that.
            1.2. But has Snowden (a) adhered to the Enemy and (b) given them Aid and Comfort?
            1.3. On (a) Snowden has not become a Terrorist, so (a) does not apply.
            1.4. On (b) this is subject to interpretation. What he has revealed is that the government is snooping – scanning calls and emails – on its citizens and aliens. Arguably this is not Aid and Comfort to the enemy. Because the true enemy, the sophisticated terrorists, are using electronic communications in ways that may be impervious to NSA analyses, such as throwaway mobile phones, coded talk, software like Tor and their own encryption methods (Asrar al-Mujahideen 2 is one).

            2. Why would one choose to believe one news source and not another? If the logic is that news sources are not credible surely, absent evidence, one cannot claim that one source is false and another true. So the truth must lie somewhere in-between.
            2.1. The fact that no one approves or denies does not give lie to the truth or vice-versa. It’s just more secrecy that the world does not need.

            3. As to the simple question, the NSA should do all it can to save American lives — not within the law — but within what is ‘right’. Because laws can be made — in this case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978) and the Patriot Act (2001) — to infringe, if not violate, what is ‘right’. ‘Right’ partly being the preservation of the values of human freedom and rights.

            3.1. The world is in turmoil and we are striving for an open and just society, not simply an American one, but a world-wide one. America has contributed much to the vision of an open and just society. It should continue to lead the way on that evolutionary path.

          • Joe America says:

            Cogent arguments. Grand conclusion.

  7. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Tomorrow is 4th of July, America’s Independence Day. Officemates are badgering me for my honorable presence but I’d rather celebrate contemplating why Americans celebrate it with gusto: Bar-B-Q, drinks, friends, families, fluttering American flags at the porches. Battle of Gettysburg pictures splattered in Yahoo! Columnists talk about other things that led to demise of Confederates. Historians took pain to map out the terrain at Gettysburg why Gen Lee led his men to massing Union soldiers. Nothing like this in the Philippines. I did not even know there was Independence Day gone by because there was no celebration at all !!!! Columnists write about rehashed stories. Nothing new. There was no heroic battle leading to June 12 Independence Day! Except the coming of General Aguyinaldo whose selling out to the Spaniards are always deleted by “patriotic” moderators with Visa to America.

    WELL ANYWAYS TO THOSE AMERICANS, HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!! American flag planted in my yard in the land of the land of the brave and my former colonizer. I am not saying I am brave. I am saying I surrendered to my former colonizer, The Americans. I am not American, I am just card-carrying naturalized American, A Fake American.

    • Joe America says:

      Almost all Americans are some level of fake. I’m 5th generation fake, of German extraction. I have criminals and insanity and religious fanatic in my heritage. Mainly what we Americans do is agree to be a nation better than most, and thanks for the flag in that spirit.

  8. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    CULTURAL RUBS. I agree with the observation of your wife, Joe There are plenty of gleaming brand new Japanese, Korean and American cars. Kia, Toyota,Chevys & Ford dealerships are all over. And, oh, VOLKSWAGEN! They are also here. WheeeW!!!! Volkswagen Jetta was my first car in the U.S.!!!! Because it was and it is still kind of cool tooling around with it. My parents had Taunus! I do not know if anyone has ever heard of it. It was Ford made in Germany. When my older brother brings me to school I made sure he I get off a block away because Taunus was funny looking car. Extremely funny looking. I guess my father was a Nazi because he kept blaming Hitler for prosecuting and exterminating the Jews the brain of rocket science the reason they lost the war. But Taunus was not rocket science. It was ugly duckling. Thank gootness Kia Sorento has arrived despite its plastic interior.

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