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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/29/13

Lying General Keith Alexander-- Bad For America

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General Keith B. Alexander in service uniform
General Keith B. Alexander in service uniform
(Image by (From Wikimedia) National Security Agency (NSA), Author: National Security Agency (NSA))
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General Keith Alexander lied to congress. That was reason enough to fire and prosecute him. Now, he's gone further, calling for stopping the press. This is bad for America and bad for democracy and press freedoms everywhere. 
 Glenn Greenwald wrote compellingly on this in his Guardian article:

" are American and British officials, in light of their conduct in all of this, going to maintain the pretense that they are defenders of press freedoms and are in a position to lecture and condemn others for violations? In what might be the most explicit hostility to such freedoms yet -- as well as the most unmistakable evidence of rampant panic -- the NSA's director, General Keith Alexander,actually demanded Thursday that the reporting being done by newspapers around the world on this secret surveillance system be halted (Techdirt has the full video here):

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The head of the embattled National Security Agency, Gen Keith Alexander, is accusing journalists of "selling" his agency's documents and is calling for an end to the steady stream of public disclosures of secrets snatched by former contractor Edward Snowden.

"I think it's wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000 -- whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these -- you know it just doesn't make sense," Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department's "Armed With Science" blog.

"We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that. That's more of the courts and the policy-makers but, from my perspective, it's wrong to allow this to go on," the NSA director declared. [My italics]

There are 25,000 employees of the NSA (and many tens of thousands more who work for private contracts assigned to the agency). Maybe one of them can tell The General about this thing called "the first amendment".

I'd love to know what ways, specifically, General Alexander has in mind for empowering the US government to "come up with a way of stopping" the journalism on this story. Whatever ways those might be, they are deeply hostile to the US constitution -- obviously. What kind of person wants the government to forcibly shut down reporting by the press?

Whatever kind of person that is, he is not someone to be trusted in instituting and developing a massive bulk-spying system that operates in the dark. For that matter, nobody is."

 Greenwald indicts general Alexander quite effectively. But there's more. Alexander is clearly a threat and danger to first amendment freedoms in the US. But his behavior and words are hurting the soft power and reputation of the United States AND democracy AND the idea of freedom of the press. 
The people of the world love and hate America. They love us for our American dream, for our freedoms, particularly our freedom of the press, and for our arts-- movies, music and culture. 
When a powerful leader like General Alexander says we need to stop that freedom it is not just an empty idea that won't pass muster in the US. It is an idea that becomes a meme, a concept that authoritarian regimes and less free democracies embrace and use to do what he's advocating. 
Take England, for example, which already has a less free press, restricted by libel and slander laws that prevent the press from writing what it can in the USA. Today, it is reported that Prime Minister David Cameron has said, referring to the media, and the Guardian in particular, "   if they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act." That's a pretty direct threat to freedom of the press, in a nation that should be setting examples. 
This is setting of bad examples not a one-off pheomenon applicable to freedom of the press only. We see it with election rigging. The USA has a horribly corrupted, broken election system that is based on using easily rigged electronic voting machines. Eventually, if the USA survives as a real democracy, the e-voting phase of its history will be viewed as a shameful time when corrupt legislators allowed corrupt elections for many election cycles.  Today, the nations which use hand counted paper ballots have more reliable, more trustworthy, more democratic elections. 
Every time a high level official within the US government does something like Alexander has done, it hurts the reputation of America-- the soft power that keeps the rest of the world maintaining a balance of love with the hate that so many feel, as this WaPo map of love and hate of the US shows. 
When American officials behave badly, in un-democratic ways, they hurt democracy and the freedoms America used to stand for all over the world, affecting billions of people. 
it is not enough allow the buck to stop with General Alexander. President Obama has allowed Alexander's lies to stand, where the president should have called for Alexander (and Clapper) to resign-- or fired him. Obama should be calling Alexander on his anti-first amendment positions, and making it clear that this is not the way America operates. 
Then there are the rest of the stenographic mainstream media. Where are they? Why aren't they calling out Alexander?  The way the media and politicians treat Glenn Greenwald and Edwards Snowden provides a litmus test. 
Most are failing. 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.

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He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, (more...)

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