Depending on where you live, free and open access to the information and entertainment found on the Internet might seem like more of a right than a privilege. But for folks who live in some of the world’s more restrictive societies, some or even most of the Internet remains tantalizingly out of reach, blocked by government censors and their firewalls.
On Saturday 20 July 2013, in the basement of the Guardian’s office in Kings Cross, London, watched by two GCHQ technicians, Guardian editors destroyed hard drives and memory cards on which encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden had been stored. This is the first time footage of the event has been released.
The idiocy of this is astounding and shows just how much authorities have no idea how technology works.
The Prime Minister of a country sends a cabinet secretary to personally intimidate a newspaper editor. The Prime Minister’s Deputy National Security Adviser threatens to shut down the newspaper. Government agents get sent over to supervise the physical destruction of source material.
It’s what you’d expect from some kind of tin-pot dictatorship without any regards for freedom of speech or freedom of the press – but no, this is Great Britain in the 21st century.
There is a delusion among politicians that, by destroying a computer, you destroy the information. They did not think that 1) the information had already been published online and other people made copies or 2) that the newspaper likely had copies and the originals were safe somewhere else and could be copied and published again.
Have your favorite movies been censored or meddled with by the Pentagon? Since the 80′s, and the success of Top Gun, Hollywood has increased its production of big budget war movies, using military bases, submarines and aircraft carriers that the armed forces have generously made available to the studios. In exchange, the Pentagon’s experts vet hundreds of screenplays each year.
Using lots of movie clips, “Operation Hollywood” explores this cozy relationship between Hollywood filmmakers and the U.S. government, and questions the wisdom of letting the Pentagon use movies to promote the U.S. army’s image.
Every year, Hollywood producers ask the Pentagon for help in making films, seeking everything from locations and technical advice to Blackhawk helicopters and nuclear-powered submarines. The military will happily oblige, it says in an army handbook, so long as the movie “aid[s] in the recruiting and retention of personnel.”
The producers want to make money; the Defense Department wants to make propaganda. Former Hollywood Reporter staffer Robb explores the conflicts resulting from these negotiations in this illuminating though sometimes tedious study of the military-entertainment complex over the last 50 years. Robb shows how, in the Nicholas Cage film Windtalkers, the Marine Corps strong-armed producers into deleting a scene where a Marine pries gold teeth from a dead Japanese soldier (a historically accurate detail).
And in The Perfect Storm, the air force insisted on giving the Air National Guard credit for rescuing a sinking fishing boat, instead of the actual Coast Guard heroes. Even seemingly flawless recruiting vehicles had troubles: in Top Gun, the navy demanded Tom Cruise’s love interest be changed from a military instructor to a civilian contractor (fraternization between officers & enlisted personnel being a no-no).
At its worst, the author argues, the Pentagon unscrupulously targets children; Robb reveals how the Defense Department helped insert military story lines into the Mickey Mouse Club. To help, Robb suggests a schedule of uniform fees by which producers could rent aircraft carriers, F-16s & the like. It’s an intriguing idea, though producers can go it alone: as Robb points out, blockbusters Forrest Gump, An Officer & a Gentleman & Platoon were all made without military assistance.