Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

Chelsea Manning is a Traitor, Not a Hero

Published at The International Business Times

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 18, 2017

Chelsea Manning (REUTERS/U.S. Army)

It might have been thought that a consistent opposition to treason was not all that difficult. But President Barack Obama’s surprise decision last night to commute the sentence of Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning, showed how deeply political partisanship has penetrated into areas like national security, where ideally country would be put before party or ideology. Continue reading

Film Review: Snowden (2016)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 29, 2016

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Snowden never, ever recovers from its premise: that Edward Snowden, a super-capable, pure-hearted all-American, found terrible government crimes against the American population while working at the National Security Agency, and was moved to disclose them to the world after being stymied in official channels.

Literally none of that is true. The Snowden revelations found mistakes that were generally cleared up by an efficient and functional bureaucratic oversight mechanism. Snowden did not try to go official channels in the way he described, and the bulk of what Snowden revealed was nothing to do with the privacy of Americans but was related to foreign intelligence, where the legal and practical situation is that everyone hoovers up as much data as they can. The capabilities of the Snowden presented here, personal and professional—to say nothing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden’s motives—would not withstand scrutiny for a single second against the actual historical record. This could be said fairly generally of the whole film. Continue reading

Film Review: The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 25, 2015

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In 1974, former Catholic seminary student Christopher Boyce (played by Timothy Hutton) takes a job at TRW, a Southern California aerospace firm, where he is read on to highly classified programs related to the then-new technology of satellites. Through a childhood friend, drug dealer, and minor smuggler, Andrew Daulton Lee (played by Sean Penn), Boyce begins selling secrets to Soviet intelligence based in the Embassy in Mexico.

Credit should be given for the graphics. While released in the mid-1980s, the clothing (and hair) is clearly of 1970s vintage. But the film’s narrative is direly flawed—both in what it does say and what it doesn’t.
Continue reading

Film Review: Citizenfour (2014) by Laura Poitras

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 6, 2015

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Produced and directed by Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based, American-born producer and director, who has made numerous films attacking America’s foreign policy, Citizenfour rounds out a trilogy that started in 2006 with My Country, My Country about the U.S. regency in Iraq, and had its last instalment in 2010 with The Oath, a film that apparently follows two al-Qaeda members in Yemen and concludes they’re not such bad chaps.

The target this time for Poitras is the National Security Agency (NSA). Continue reading

Film Review: JFK (1991)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 23, 2015

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It was shockingly bad. One had known the contours of the story going in, but even bracing oneself for a Grassy Knoll enterprise will not prepare one for how sheerly dull and ludicrous is this film. Add to that the two-hundred minutes running time, and it is unbearable. Continue reading

Beware of Tyrants Bearing Gifts: Assad and Intelligence on the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 2, 2014

An ally against the Islamic State? Not quite.

An ally against the Islamic State? Not quite.

The United States signals intelligence (SIGINT) apparatus in Syria, which monitors the communications of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has “yield[ed] unexpected intelligence over the Sunni jihadists that has helped guide American military operations in Syria and Iraq,” the Wall Street Journal print edition reported yesterday, based on high-level leaks. Continue reading

Indonesia: Islam, Terrorism, and Democracy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 1, 2014

Pro-ISIS demonstration in Indonesia, March 16, 2014

Pro-ISIS demonstration in Indonesia, March 16, 2014

Early last month, Indonesia announced:

The government rejects and bans the teachings of [the Islamic State] from growing in Indonesia. It is not in line with State ideology, Pancasila, or the philosophy of kebhinekaan [diversity] under the unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.”

This was a welcome change of tune. Continue reading