Shakespeare and the Confirmation Hearing of the FBI Director

The seeming truth which cunning times put on To entrap the wisest. Merchant of Venice“The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest.”

(Merchant of Venice, act 3, sc. 2)

Comment. Watching a Senate confirmation hearing is a trying experience. Not because of the confirmation per se, but due to the abyss separating appearance from reality. Especially in the recent instance – the appointment of the director of the FBI.

The hearing quickly assumes a lofty tone of inflexible dignity. The candidate begins by holding his right hand ritually high while swearing that he will tell the truth with the best studied expression of manly sincerity. The performance is designed to impress the conviction that he who is approved by such an august assembly can be anything but a scoundrel.

And yet, perhaps never more than now, truth depends on the direction of the (political) wind.

To begin with, the new director, James Comey  was deputy attorney general in the Bush administration. In that role, Comey signed off on the so-called legal Bradbury memo authorizing the torture of prisoners. The memo authorized techniques designed to inflict pain or terror during the interrogation of detainees. The “techniques” include sleep-deprivation and water-boarding.

For those (especially international) visitors who are not aware of the “Bradbury Memo”, here is what it says about sleep deprivation. It is not simply making noises and keeping the lights on.

“In this method, the detainee is standing and is handcuffed, and the handcuffs are attached by a length of chain to the ceiling. The detainee’s hands are shackled in front of his body, so that the detainee has approximately a two- to three-foot diameter of movement. The detainee’s feet are shackled to a bolt in the floor. The method is to be used up to 180 hours (7 and a half days)”

The memo adds that the detainee will wear a diaper, and advises the administrators of the “method” that it will cause swelling in the lower extremities.”

The memo also states that “Sleep deprivation does not constitute torture” (!) and this is what the newly anointed FBI director signed to.

And here is another section of the Bradbury memo, describing the other “non-torture” technique of waterboarding.

In the technique of waterboarding, the detainee is lying on a gurney that is inclined at an angle of 10 to 15 degrees to the horizontal, with the detainee on his back and his head toward the lower end of the gurney. A cloth is placed over the detainee’s face and cold water is poured on the cloth from a height of approximately 6 to 8 inches. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individual’s blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of “suffocation and incipient panic,” i.e., the perception of drowning.  The individual does not breathe any water into his lungs. During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths. The sensation of drowning is immediately relieved by the removal of the cloth. The procedure may then be repeated. If the detainee makes an effort to defeat the technique (e.g. by twisting his head to the side and breathing out of the corner of his mouth), the interrogator may cup his hands around the detainee’s nose and mouth to dam the runoff, in which case it would not be possible for a detainee to breathe during the application of the water. The technique may be applied in a manner to defeat efforts by the detainee to hold his breath by, for example, beginning an application of water as the detainee is exhaling. Either in the normal application, or where countermeasures are used water may enter – and may accumulate in – the detainee’s mouth and nasal cavity, preventing him from breathing. The detainee, as a counter-measure may swallow water in significant water. In this case the CIA requires that salt water be used instead of plain water.”

The “waterboarding” method does not constitute torture.

That is also what the new FBI director signed to – the same character who in front of the Senate hearing makes such an ostentation of irrefragable rectitude.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

The Snowden case has caught the world’s attention – but there have been a few but equally significant whistleblowers, for example hactivist Barret Brown who having uncovered pretty unsavory FBI matters, became its target.

Brown, held now for 300 days without bail in a Texas prison, did not reveal any government secrets but made discoveries that, if not kept hidden by the corporate media, should shock that section of the public still believing in the “government by the people for the people” etc. etc.

The case of Coca Cola is one such discovery. Coca Cola approached “Stratfor”, one of the private “security companies” out of concern about PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). In one of the messages one Stratfor employee says, “The FBI has a classified file on PETA. I’ll see if I can get it for you.”

The discovery is very meaningful because:

a)    Why does Coca-Cola use a private intelligence agency and not the Department of Justice if (presumably) suspects some wrong doing by PETA?
b)   Why the private intelligence agency has access to a classified FBI file?
c)    Why the FBI has a classified file on an entity (PETA) with whose aims most people who call themselves human concur?

From this and other messages hacked at various “private security” companies we see emerging an ominous profile. The FBI and the CIA have become the enforcement police and the undeclared army of large corporations.

In turn, this is and has become possible because FBI and CIA members move into the “private security” companies to which, as FBI or CIA members, have given lucrative contracts – only to re-enter the “official” government agency when the well risks to run dry.

Meanwhile the Snowdens and the Brown Barretts are jailed or bounty-hunted for as criminals. Some, like Aaron Swartz (see article for Jan 15, 2013) have been driven to suicide.

Yet, the “private security” firms can run criminal operations with the full approval of the government. One such firm is the extremely secret “End-Game System” (“we do not want to see our name in any news release – says one of their hacked memo”).

End-Game Systems’ product(s) are what they call “zero-day exploits”. That is, sometimes software has security flaws that the software maker is not immediately aware of. And when they realize the problem they correct it, typically in a few days.

“Zero day” refers to the day when the software manufacturer will begin to work on the problem. A “zero-day exploit” is one that the software company doesn’t know about.

Endgame Systems packages these things and sells them by subscription to corporations at $2.5 million a year.

This is what a hacker would do but End Game Systems are a business (staffed by ex-government characters) and they are making a profit so it is OK.

Not only, but the Justice Department is there to protect them – one of the FBI reasons for arresting Barrett Brown is that he was allegedly hacking into End-Game Systems.

Finally, FBI employs over 800,000 agents. How many does the CIA employ is anybody’s guess but certainly more than a few. Yet 70% of the “security” budget goes to private contractors – such as the one Snowden was employed by.

No wonder there is no money for schools, for education, unemployment etc. etc. Equally, it is no wonder that the sagacious newly-appointed FBI Director can put up “the seeming truth which cunning times put on to entrap the wisest”. And majestically say “yes” to the oath, “I swear that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God”.

So help us God indeed.  With friends like the FBI of today who needs enemies!

Being abundantly clear that the nauseatingly stale “war on terror” is but an Orwellian formula for war on the people, war on the rest of us.

In the play. Prior to selecting which basket to choose (the correct basket will entail marrying Portia), Bassanio meditates on some truths which will lead him to discard the gold basket

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