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The CIA Does Las Vegas 124

Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes Despite the long line of covert operations that Ed Snowden's documents have exposed, public outcry hasn't come anywhere near the level of social unrest that characterized the 1960s. Journalists like Conor Friedersdorf have suggested that one explanation for this is that the public is "informed by a press that treats officials who get caught lying and misleading (e.g., James Clapper and Keith Alexander) as if they're credible."

Certainly there are a number of well-known popular venues which offer a stage for spies to broadcast their messages from while simultaneously claiming to "cultivate conversations among all members of the security community, both public and private." This year, for instance, Black Hat USA will host Dan Greer (the CISO of In-Q-Tel) as a keynote speaker.

But after all of the lies and subterfuge is it even constructive to give voice to the talking points of intelligence officials? Or are they just muddying the water? As one observer put it, "high-profile members of the intelligence community like Cofer Black, Shawn Henry, Keith Alexander, and Dan Greer are positioned front and center in keynote slots, as if they were glamorous Hollywood celebrities. While those who value their civil liberties might opine that they should more aptly be treated like pariahs."
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The CIA Does Las Vegas

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  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday August 01, 2014 @08:50AM (#47580601) Homepage Journal

    Journalists like Conor Friedersdorf have suggested that one explanation for this is that the public is "informed by a press

    Balderdash. There is not a press. What is this, communism, comrade? We have many presses. The problem is that the public follows the sensational ones instead of the informative. We The People have the government, and thus the press, which we deserve.

  • Closing one's ears to people one might disagree with is a sure way to rot as a community. It's not like the community that attends such conferences is unanimous in their views; it's not *all* technolibertarians. If you look at other presentations by such bodies at past conferences, you see that they're often quite good.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:03AM (#47580671)

    If a CIA or NSA official told me it was daytime outside and my watch said 12 noon, I would still have to walk outside to believe it.

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:05AM (#47580683)
    If you hosted a well known "true black hat" hacker at the conference they would still command everybody's respect purely for their abilities, and everybody would want to hear what they had to say. You take for granted that much of it is going to be a lie, but it's still more interesting and on topic than (say) inviting a politician to speak.
  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:16AM (#47580739) Homepage

    I'd expect that if I were to take a collection of the last 100 statements from most techno libertarians on matters of fact and 100 statements from the average CIA spokesperson on matters of fact and had a God's eye view of the situation the CIA would be more accurate. In the case of the CIA / NSA they are often deliberately misleading the public on a few facts they consider crucial while being accurate on a huge collections of information. In the case of the techno libertarians, like many semi-credible analysts they are making wild conjectures and exaggerating to "raise awareness".

    A responsible professional press's job is to try and start crossing between them and try and build a better factual picture for their readership. So yes they have to have a voice.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:28AM (#47580793)

    You know the news doesn't cover it when when the CIA tells the truth.

    If you feeling completely outraged about something, you probably do not have enough information. When you have enough information you can be angry at a particular subset of an issue not just the entire thing.

  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:48AM (#47580913)

    ...informed by a press that treats officials... as if they're credible

    More like informed by a press that's controlled by the CIA (look up "Operation Mockingbird").

    FTFY, BTW.

    Seriously, no secrets here, folks; just short memories, even shorter attention spans... and a fuck-ton of inexcusable ignorance (no wonder the elites have no qualms about treating us like cattle...)

  • Total Propaganda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @10:21AM (#47581135)
    I am beginning to think that we are being subjected to total propaganda. The US public may be almost in a state of mind control by continuous misinformation. You can get a glimpse of this by the way your local news is reported. You have your local Sally Sunshine who greats you with happy, friendly tones and the delivers the greatest pile of nonsense one can imagine. The audience is felt to be in need of comfort and confrontation or disturbing news is suppressed every day. You see a similar tactic with organisations that are subject to the good will of the community. For example a church may give a free meal to the poor one night a week. When this is done many of the poor or homeless will walk or bicycle quite a distance for the meal. But when you see what is served and the caloric intake of the meal vs. the energy needed to get to the church the actual effect may be to increase the level of starvation. The image of the church is enhanced and I do understand the money issues involved but in the end the food programs at the church may be negative. At a more drastic scale we see California in urgent emergency over lack of water and forest fires. Yet you will not see news reports on what can actually be done to stop the growing emergency. For example freezing building permits should lower the demand for water as growing populations demand more water. Building many new lakes and reservoirs could help with fire control and water supply issues as well. Yet we see no news about such topics at all. And on a nation wide basis we see no mention of the notion that population growth increases all of our negative trends such as lack of water, low paying jobs, poverty, addictions, crime and mental illness are all increased by swelling populations.
  • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @10:45AM (#47581333) Journal

    "Abundance for all" is unlikely. However, "guaranteed subsistence for all" is easily doable. We have more empty, foreclosed on homes than we have homeless people. We're paying farmers not to grow food while people go hungry. We insist everyone have a job in order to have access to food and shelter, yet there are not enough jobs for everyone to do, and a large portion of the jobs we do have are make-work. There is enough for everyone's basic needs to be met but resources are poorly distributed.

    Over the last 40 years per capita GDP in the US doubled but real median income has fallen. The American worker is the most productive motherfucker on the planet. They're generating twice as much wealth as they were 40 years ago, and yet they are keeping less of it. Where did that wealth go? If it didn't go to the workers, the only other place it can go is to the owners. The system is designed to concentrate wealth at the top and it's done a very good job of that.

    I'm not advocating for a forced redistribution of wealth. I don't know what the answer is. But the problem is pretty easy to spot.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault