“Barack Obama announced the first public review of US surveillance programs since 9/11 on Friday, in what amounts to the president’s first concession that the mounting public concern in response to disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden justifies reform. After weeks in which the Obama and senior intelligence officials have insisted that the privacy of US citizens was sufficiently protected, the president announced a series of measures aimed at containing the controversy prompted by the Guardian’s revelations. At a White House press conference – his first full question-and-answer session in three months – Obama said that revelations about the National Security Agency’s activities had led Americans to question their trust in government and damaged the country’s reputation abroad. But he made it clear that the programs themselves would remain in place………………”
There is only one question that matters here: would Mr. Obama have started reform of the NSA surveillance system without the actions taken by Edward Snowden? Probably not.
“The American consulate in Jeddah celebrated America’s 237th Independence Day this week.
The event was attended by Ambassador James Smith and his wife Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith, Anne Casper, the American consul general and the guest of honor, Ambassador Ahmed Tayeb, director general of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Makkah region. A number of other diplomats, dignitaries and friends of America were also present. A colorful ceremony was presented by the marine security guard detachment. Casper said that the American consulate decided to celebrate the national day early because of the many people who travel out of the country in July, and because of the heat. The US celebrates its national day on July 4………………”
I must say, this is the most bizarre rendition of the Fourth of July ever, on the Ides of March. I am almost certain it is a first. Can you imagine the French celebrating Bastille Day in February to accommodate some potentates? Jamais!………. But what a waste: as if the Al Saud princes give a ripe fig (or a sheep’s fatty chiffil) about some far away people who had a revolution and overthrew a despotic king who was not even Wahhabi.
didn’t see the Will Smith film, Independence Day? …………
Neck of the woods
“The FBI is making a new push to determine how a woman who had an affair with retired Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was CIA director obtained classified files, part of an expanding series of investigations in a scandal that also threatens the career of the United States’ top military commander in Afghanistan. Senior law enforcement officials said that a late-night seizure on Monday of boxes of material from the North Carolina home of Paula Broadwell, a Petraeus biographer whose affair with him led to his resignation last week, marks a renewed focus by investigators on sensitive material found in her possession. “The issue of national security is still on the table,” one U.S. law enforcement official said. Both Petraeus and Broadwell have denied to investigators that he was the source of any classified information…………….”
The Petraeus media reports highlight the cultural differences between various parts of the world. Besides all the strange FBI investigations of a private affair and the house raids (at least one so far), there the broader issues. You’d think the FBI are the American equivalent of the Saudi Commission for the Propagation of Vice (the Religious Police,) the way they have undertaken to dismantle not only the professional lives but also the private lives of the people involved. All for being involved in a relationship that is not against the law. So let’s compare:
USA. Freedom of consensual liaisons between adult humans is guaranteed. But the remnants of that old Puritan Ethnic are hard to shake off. The shadow of John Winthrop hangs over many hooked up couples, whether they were in the back of a car in the old days or in a motel or a hotel, or at someone’s home. Americans concede that ‘it’ is part of life, even most Republicans concede that, but it is wise not to get caught doing it. If an aggrieved partner or rival doesn’t bloody you, then there is the brutal schadenfreude, which can and does ruin the ‘afterglow’. Then there is General Allen, who exchanged emails with some other chick. He called her ‘sweetheart’ and the Religious Police apparently interpreted that as tantamount to consensual sex. Shouldn’t these guys be catching terrorists, real or created or encouraged, rather than worry about emails and bedrooms? Then there are the and drug lords and traffickers , etc., etc.
- France. Sex is a red line in France, even if it often becomes public. It is not haram to have sex before, during, after, inside, outside, and around marriage. It is haram to meddle in it, ban it, moralize about it, or use it in politics. A general can have all the mistresses he wants, all the mistresses who are willing to seduce him, all who accept his “attentions”, all that he can afford, as long as he performs well in the field (field of battle or whatever it is French generals are supposed to do at the office). That is part of French-ness: the French Tea Party and the French Salafis would insist on it. French Evangelicals would insist on it. Even Marine Le Pen would insist on it.
- Britain. The Brits get really kinky and off the “beaten track” in their sex scandals of high officials. Quite interesting for a people known (perhaps mistakenly) for eschewing public sex. The mildest scandal involves at least hookers (i.e. prostitutes) and progresses to foreign spies, Russians, Chinese, Abominable Snowmen, and it degenerates and gets worse (or is it considered “better” over there).
- Middle East. Oh, never mind. Forget about it. In some ways we are more advanced: we have institutionalized it all. You can get thrown in prison or flogged publicly for being alone with a woman in a car or at the beach or even at a cafe in some countries. Yet a General Prince Bin Technocrat Al-Kleptocrat can lead his ‘private’ life as he pleases without, er, interruption. So can a Field Marshal Shaikh Bin Kleptocrat Al-Technocrat. But we also have our public solutions to the natural order of things. Polygamy, temporary marriages, part-time marriages, sex-only no-cohabitation no-responsibility marriages, and other creative “halal”, “kosher” if you prefer, sexual arrangements that take care of it all. We are, after all, more moral and holier than thou (that means you heathens).