Is the DOJ Essentially Now a Data Laundering Operation?

In a recent interview with Democracy Now, Julian Assange(starting at around the 29:00 mark) made a particularly salient observation regarding the current DOJ surveillance ignominy involving the AP and Fox News: the NSA already had the data. The DOJ “investigation” was not an investigation per se, but rather a “data laundering operation” to “cleanse” the data for possible legal use in court proceedings. Assange prefaced his remarks with “do not be deceived,” and I would spot a high probability that he is correct in this instance with the only qualification being that he will be absolutely right within the very near future.

Interestingly, Assange proceeded to spell out the political economy of data analytics, detailing how the NSA is involved in a massive graphical analysis of node connections(nodes would be you and me) to map out the “social network”(the links or edges that connect all of us). Of course, this very thing was the basis of my earlier critique of his “Call to Cryptographic Arms,” noting that encryption can’t reliably shield the connectedness of your own little(or perhaps not so little) matrix in the well-connected graph1.

In any event, Assange labeled the NSA the “dirty team” and the DOJ the “clean team.” In the totalitarian surveillance world of the well-connected graph, this shifts the DOJ’s role to be that of the State’s data launderer. In the 21st century political economy, the so-called liberal “rule of law” rests on the foundation of a data laundering operation.

Two words: The Firm. And the lines are further blurred between the Ministry of Truth and The Department of Justice.

1 Benjamin Tucker is noted for his four monopolies. The 21st century political economy will introduce a fifth one: data analytics. And this will be the mother of all monopolies. Tucker’s observation regarding money–a free market in banking is one of humanity’s greatest civilizers while a monopoly in the same is one of its greatest enslavers–can be multiplied by orders of magnitude both ways in regards to data analytics.

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Obama’s Executive Decision

Lately, I’ve been more or less promoting two ideas on this blog: (1) A Rational Choice Model of the State as The Firm (2) The Firm’s intent to be “market setter” for an internet legal regime. If you subscribe to (1), then (2) follows a logical prediction.

The model of the State as The Firm gives us a form of economic governance that is in competition with the ends of its citizens. This is “the total state,” and it is a first-order liberal violation. The Firm is largely beyond any “democratic accountability.” Indeed, “democracy” is treated as a product by the firm, something that is to be manufactured and churned. We can almost treat the “American Culture War” as the manufacturing plant for churning out American democratic consent. Undoubtedly, that is where it is by and large produced.

The rational choice driving the Firm as a market setter for an internet legal regime is a topic I discussed in some detail in a previous post, “Regulating the Panopticon.” You simply start with the current status quo and observe that “data-analytics” provides the market-setting regime change for the Firm(note: the regime is not the Firm; rather, the regime is the rules of the Political Economy set by the Firm). Finance defined the Chicago-School rules regime of political economy for the past 30 years. Data-analytics will define the new rules regime going forward.1

The rational choice of the Firm gives us a model of the President as CEO. Hence, we shouldn’t be surprised that Obama is contemplating implementing much of the recently filibustered Cybersecurity bill by an executive order. An “Executive Decision,” as the saying goes.

Any outrage of the prospect of a unilateral executive implementation of a national policy with such far-reaching implications mistakenly operates under the presumption that the Presidency is a political office. But it’s not really that. As an office of Political Economy, however, you would find Obama’s statements to be consistent with what you might expect from a CEO. To say that Obama’s Executive Order would violate the constitution is a bit naive. Given the regulatory charge of executive authority bestowed from the wide-range of laws that have passed constitutional mustard, I would say that Obama’s Executive Order most assuredly would not violate it.

And no one is quoting the US Constitution as means to constrain the Firm’s strategy to militarize the internet. The US is actively engaged in repeated, sophisticated cyberattacks to to produce outcomes exactly like this. This is part of an integrated strategy to instigate the very need of a market setter for an internet legal regime.

Political means are more or less powerless to constrain much of the Firm’s actions. The tiny parts that are ostensibly subject to political accountability are a mere formality. My suggestion is to take the laws of political economy seriously. The President of the United States is the CEO of National Security State, Inc, a corporation ultimately chartered by the United States Constitution.

1 Interestingly, a third topic that I’ve intermittently promoted, “The Pink Police State,” perhaps finds its most precise definition within the data-analytics model. The Political Economy of Data-Analytics and Surveillance will not(and simply cannot) produce the traditional capitalist surpluses to support the traditional progressive welfare state. In the classic libertarian perspective(a la, Bastiat), these “transfer payments” are bribes to placate dissent against a political economy of plunder. Of course, the origin of these progressive “transfer payments” is largely labor itself(SS and Medicare, by far the largest components of the “Welfare State,” are labor tax transfers). But the surplus labor base for the continuation of this placating transfer model will shrivel up and wither under a political economy of data-analytics.

The Pink Police State simply replaces the bribe of the progressive transfer model with the bribe of the “libertarian culture” transfer model. The political economy of data-surveillance can bargain “zones of tolerance” and increased “cultural freedom” as means of placation. Of course, these benefits will largely accrue to the “professional classes” and not to those at the margins.
The Pink Police State uses libertarianism to bribe the professional classes.

Cyberpunks Talk Libertarian Class Theory

After finishing up my most recent post, “Regulating the Panopticon,” I became aware of this fascinating 3 hour interview discussion featuring Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jeremie Zimmermann on Russia Today. This special 3 hour episode of Assange’s “The World Tomorrow” was dubbed “The Cypherpunks.”

Now if you haven’t already guessed, I am quite sympathetic to the hacker movement. Indeed, I would say I much greater sympathy for that movement than for the general libertarian movement which I find to be largely incoherent, inextricably conservative and obsessed with fighting old turf wars(e.g., Keynes vs Hayek, a topic which has long outlived its general relevance)1. In particular, I am often flummoxed by the contentions of the leading luminaries of this movement that deny the US is a police state. To boot, we are additionally informed that we are living in a time of unprecedented freedom, justified usually by appeals to technological advances.

Now I would suggest that one’s failure of discernment regarding the status of the United States is a good indication of one posing no challenge to the status quo. If one were actually challenging it, one would probably have a different perspective on the matter. The gathered cyberpunks are actually challenging it. So you will find they have a bit of different opinion regarding the police state practices of the United States government. To wit, from my understanding, Jeremie Zimmermann was interrogated by the FBI when he entered the United States after sitting for this interview in London.

Judging by my stats, my previous 2 posts were traffic failures. Well, perhaps I’m just a bad writer, but the underlying message is important. So to save you from having to digest the verbosity, the summary would be: the internet provides the regime change mechanism for a political competition in technology: a rent-seeking game in data analytics. Data analytics is the last remaining frontier where competition is not outlawed. A political economy in data analytics results in the Panopticon.2 I would encourage you to watch the above linked Assange episode. It greatly expands on this theme. So my writing may be boring. But you will not find that episode boring. Trust me.

Some Show Observations
Julian Assange is a doctrinaire liberal/libertarian but the others are not. Nonetheless, all four participants agreed that political reform was impossible and pointless. The consensus among the four was that the only means to combat the problem of the surveillance State is alternative institutions in economics, currency, etc. I find this interesting because it sort of illuminates an ongoing debate regarding the need/value of libertarian education. I would contend that libertarianism doesn’t have an educational problem. Rather, it has an empirical problem of revolution. American libertarianism will likely educate you into incoherence. But those who are actively involved in challenging the status quo, those who have no particularly affinity for the “capitalism” of american libertarianism, can see the problem quite clearly.

Toward the end, a bit of disagreement broke out regarding the ultimate foundation of freedom. Assange took the position that it ultimately rests with Free Trade. The others were not quite in agreement. But I would take Assange’s position. I ascribe to a method of libertarian class theory. Often, I think this method is misrepresented as the productive vs the unproductive or the taxpayers vs the tax eaters. That is the wrong way to think of it. It is simply Free Trade vs Political Economy. The economic life of Laissez Faire vs the economic life under the compliant auspices of the Polis. So I have to go with “free trade.” Free Speech is not the ultimate foundation of freedom in the observable sense of what the State can and cannot tolerate. It can tolerate “free speech.” It cannot tolerate “free trade.”

One particular observation from the cyberpunks might shed a little bit of light on this recent David Gordon criticism of left libertarianism. Gordon states that there is no midpoint between capitalism and socialism. By this he means economics is merely a duel world between capitalism and socialism. Monopoly status or legal monopoly pricing advantage is socialism. Everything else is capitalism. States Gordon:

As Mises again and again insisted, there is no third system intermediate between capitalism and socialism. The fact that a business has gotten to its position through government aid does not by itself change the way it sets prices. Neither is it the case that large firms operate by setting monopolistic or oligopolistic prices rather than competitive ones. (Of course, if government regulations set prices, or give a business the legal power to set prices, that is another matter altogether.) It is also not the case that wage determination rests on bargaining power: as Mises and Rothbard see matters, zones of indeterminacy are mythical.

To me, Gordon’s statement is why I would defect from capitalism as so defined. More specifically, it illuminates the difference Laissez Faire and Capitalism. I would contend that Mises/Gordon position is the wrong duel world. The political economy of prices, whether they are set by the Walrasian auctioneer or by competing firms, is not the illuminating question. The better question is who is the agency that sets the markets, not the prices. That is the Laissez Faire duel world. Gordon’s method really can’t explain why you would even have political competition. Since (1) political competition rarely results in monopoly price setting and (2) political competition without the advantage of monopoly has no bearing on competitive price setting (3) you really can’t explain political competition by the simple socialist-capitalist dualism model regarding a price-setter.

To return to the cyberpunks, it was pointed out that Russia had tried to bargain, but failed, to get Mastercard/Visa to process Russian credit card transactions in Russia. Why? Because all credit card transactions, including all global transactions, processed by Mastercard/Visa are immediately surveilled by the NSA. Within X number of minutes, every credit transaction by Putin and other members of the Russian political class is known and tracked by the US intelligence agencies(thus perhaps explaining why RT is the most libertarian oriented network broadcasting in the United States).

Now is this an example of capitalism or socialism? Mastercard and Visa do not have the monopoly power as price-setters to set transaction fees, but they do have the bargaining power that every single global banking credit card transaction will be interfaced with US Intelligence. This is oligopoly, but it is not the oligopoly of a price-setter. It is the oligopoly of the market setter. But this has to be considered capitalism according to Gordon.I would suggest that the (radical) Public Choice model of the economic governance of the total firm would be a far more predictive model here. But Gordon is still stuck in the Misean historical context of the Socialist calculation debates(which Mises lost,btw. One of Oskar Lange’s criticism of Mises’ tight compartmentalization between capitalism and socialism roughly followed the same line of argument I’m pointing out now).

1 obviously, any coder knows that the technical community has its own cherished pastime of platform turf wars. But at least this debate can played out in some semblance of an empirical arena: the marketplace.

2 A secondary theme perhaps relates a bit to the current "Spontaneous Orders" series being published by Roderick Long. We define a "Spontaneous Order" in a technical sense of complexity theory as emergent regulatory properties of complex systems. A Spontaneous Order then is a resilient order. The Internet could be defined as an efficient Hayekian Hybrid Constructivist Order derived from a principle of “planned competition.” The degree of efficiency of the Hybrid Haykekian Order introduces a scale-free, small network that follows a power law distribution(at least in the asymptotic limit) that is self-regulating. The tension between constructivism and emergent order is that while the network can regulate itself it nonetheless cannot defend itself particularly well against (external)constructivist intervention. The degree of efficiency of our evolved small network can be expropriated by a power consuming constructivist agency. I believe this argument is sort of similar to the published critique of Part III in that series.

It was evident from day one, Fareed

Fareed Zakaria, one-time supporter of the Iraq War and the Bush doctrine, now admits in the pages of Newsweek that the War on Terror has created a permanent National Security State and that permanent war itself is incompatible with liberalism. Unfortunately, if you expect any kind of political resolution of this current predicament, quoting Madison a decade after the deed has been done is just a bit more than a day late and a dollar short.

Obama Admin to Charge Julian Assange with Espionage?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that federal prosecutors are exploring possible criminal charges against Julian Assange. The Volokh Conspiracy examines if Assange can be prosecuted for Espionage. The answer seems to be yes. To quote Julian Ku, the author of a post that was linked to at Volokh:

And if I were Assange’s lawyer, I would advise him to avoid the U.S., and international waters and airspace, for as long as possible.

This predictable turn of events brings up an previous post I wrote condemning Michael Moynihan’s doublethink at Reason.

If the US Government were to arrest Julian Assange, it’s entire case would primarily rest on making the case that Assange was not a journalist but rather an anti-american ideologue engaged in espionage against the United States. That Reason, a purported libertarian publication, would publish drivel supporting the US government’s underlying argument in this matter of fundamental importance is despicable. And you don’t get off the hook by claiming to support Wikileaks while attempting to eviscerate it’s legal protection. If Moynihan is too stupid to realize that stripping Wikileaks of it’s journalistic protections makes Julian Assange a prosecutable enemy of the State, then my suggestion to Moynihan is to find another fucking profession.

It remains to be seen if Moynihan supports the prosecution of Assange for the crime of espionage. Meanwhile, Assange has anticipated this and Wikileaks has since signed an official agreement with the Swedish Pirate Party to host the public web servers while Assange has landed a job as a columnist for the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, a move that will afford him some protection as a journalist under the Swedish constitution. However, over the weekend, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, working in conjunction with US Intelligence operations, leaked an arrest order for Julian Assange for sex crimes to a Swedish Tabloid. After 24 hours and the cycling of this story intentionally in the news, the arrest order was withdrawn. The timing alone should make it obvious that was an intelligence psyops operation, but listening to the flaky interview given by the spokesperson of the Swedish Prosecution Authority in the aftermath, and reading the criticism of the abnormal behavior of the Swedish Prosecution Authority in this matter from former Swedish chief prosecutors makes the obvious indisputable.

“All governments are on a continuum of tyranny”

Jacob Appelbaum, senior volunteer for the Wikileaks project, after being detained for a number of hours by US Customs

“All governments are on a continuum of tyranny,” he said. “In the US, a cop with a gun can commit the most heinous crime and be given the benefit of the doubt. In the US, we don’t have censorship but we do have collaborating news organisations.”

Meanwhile Assange was interviewed over the weekend by Andrew Napolitano on Freedom Watch. First decent show, frankly, with no focus on the “Tea Parties.” There was a debate between Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo and a Fox Military Intelligence Analyst. The Fox analyst called Assange a terrorist and Wikileaks a terrorist organization.

Julian Assange Interview at Antiwar Radio

I haven’t seen this promoted in the libertarian blogosphere: Julian Assange’s recent interview at Antiwar Radio. It actually follows an interview with Daniel Ellsberg, who is a fairly frequent guest.

Up to now, Assange has been a fairly cryptic regarding his political views; but that is starting to change. Assange, in his public role, has subtly shifted from enigmatic hacker to activist and advocate. It is obvious now that he holds strong antiwar views. In addition to the obvious crypto-libertarian sentiment that frames the WikiLeaks mission statement, it’s probably safe to conjecture that Assange holds more general anarchist views. WikiLeaks has begun to bill itself as a global but stateless news media organization that employs an infrastructural redundancy so that no government can shut it down. Suffice to say, the United States is not part of this network infrastructure. It looks to be primarily spread out among various European jurisdictions that have fairly robust privacy laws. In this sense, the rise of the Pirate Party in Sweden, which at one time was viewed as nothing more than a novel oddity, begins to take on real significance.

In the antiwar radio interview, Assange confirms that Wikileaks does have video of the 2009 Granai airstrike, which killed a number of Afghan civilians, and will release it upon completion of the complex task of editing it in conjunction with the apparently large number of field reports that they also posses that document the operation.

Assange further gives some clarification about the recent stories that hit press that rumored he was concerned about being the target of CIA black bag operation. Assange says he was never worried about the CIA being after him. However, he was contacted by Seymour Hersh and other non-journalistic sources in the US government who were concerned about the private rhetoric being expressed by some within the government. Emmanuel Goldstein, editor of 2600(the famous hacker mag) which sponsors the Hope hacker conference that Assange was scheduled to speak at, has publicly stated that the Feds were waiting for Assange if he had shown up.

Assange indicates that the private rhetoric within the government, which I gather to mean the private sentiment being expressed within the intelligence agencies, has cooled down. However, the rhetoric of the politicians hasn’t cooled down, particularly in the congress. I’ve heard idiots, from both the Democratic and Republican side, babble about how he should be tried for treason. Apparently the crime of treason against the United States is no longer tied to citizenship. I’m sure some of those fucks would love to pass that law, but I imagine they probably just get off by hearing the word said out loud. In any event, don’t expect Julian Assange to be setting foot in the “land of the free” anytime soon.