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rant on the morality of confidentiality

I posted this to PM's mailing list, but he apparently zapped it
without comment. so here it goes to a less authoritarian
forum. context: posters to his list were remarking on the
recent declassification of information in Britain that suggested
they had discovered the key aspects of RSA before it was
discovered in the open literature by Diffie & Hellman etc.

------- Forwarded Message

To: [email protected]
Subject: a rant on the morality of confidentiality

scientists who agree to government secrecy to develop
their inventions are agreeing to a lot more than 
mere secrecy. they are committing to a paradigm that
is at odds with science itself, which only advances through
the open literature.

furthermore, they are giving away their power, so to speak,
to governments that do not have the same motives they do.
essentially they are working for a war machine, or a 
suppression machine. how can they be sure their inventions
will not be used for dark purposes? imho, by not working
within a system that poses that risk. that no such system
seems to exist is irrelevant. a truly responsible scientist
would help create one and wouldn't work without one.

I think the scientists who worked on the atom bomb and today
within the NSA are working under a key false assumption. "if we
don't develop it, the enemy will, and he will use it
against us". but perhaps if scientists around the world
united against the government warmongers that have been
manipulating them for many generations, particularly 
within the 20th century with grotesque results, perhaps
a different story would emerge. yet even Einstein himself
urged our government to "develop a weapon of mass 
destruction before the Joneses do". how smart is that?
perhaps scientifically clever, but morally, socially, and
spiritually vacuous. 

it is a feeble mind in my opinion who
takes refuge in the saying that "technology is neutral".
perhaps so, but not the humans who use and *develop* it,
and the latter are particularly responsible for the former.

how smart were those nuclear weapons scientists, anyway,
such as Feynmann? imho they agreed to the terms of their
own manipulation, and failed to question their basic
motives and intents and of those who paid them.

I believe those that work within the NSA and other secret
agencies are betraying the principles of science under the
guise of protecting humanity. I believe they have the
power to change this system, but they have reneged on their
responsibility as human beings.

Wayner covers the simplistic issues in his piece for the
NYT, but they key issues at stake are far deeper and have
never even been recognized by some of the so-called
greatest minds of our century.

so I view with distaste, to say the lest,
the scientists who later try to break the 
secrecy and come out in the open merely so that
they can have credit for something that was classified
they claim to deserve.  they deserve
credit only for supporting and participating in a vast 
and sinister system of scientific manipulation for dark 
and inhumanitarian purposes.

Chomsky is one of the few scientists of our time who
has the brilliance to recognize the ulterior side of the government
we support. surprise! he is largely ignored or even
blacklisted by his morally- and socially- handicapped colleages
who believe it is not their place to question the status
quo, but only to fit into it or advance through it.

all those scientists who have ever complained about the
lack of funding for your branch, or who have fought with
each other over the scraps handed to you like dogs--
do you have any concept of how much tax money is put into
military research? how much is funnelled into the NSA?
this is money that is funded by the public for public
welfare-- is it really being used for that?

NSA and other secret agencies have become vast parasites
feeding on public dollars that have no accountability, and
largely because scientists, who should lead the pack, instead
lack the intelligence to recognize it or the courage to challenge it.

these are my thoughts as I read how the NSA's Inman pops
up to say that the credit for RSA is the NSA's, or a British
agency does the same.

secrecy is directly contradictory to the principles upon
which this country is founded. and imho it is becoming a large
source of its ongoing demise.

quite simply, the scientists are fiddling while Democracy burns.

------- End of Forwarded Message