Come On Down to the Malware Cafe

Whenever anyone challenges yet another power grab by government bureaucrats to spy, harass, and otherwise push their noses where it doesn’t belong, the post-9/11 "explanation" is always the same: It’s all the fault of the terrorists, because, don’tcha know, we’ve got to keep our Eye on them all the time. So shut up, whiner, it’s for your own good!

The Snowden revelations prove this is all so much BS.

The scooping up of phone "metadata" and online content, so it can be stored away for a rainy day, is just the tip of the iceberg. Now it turns out that much of what Snowden exposed is all about the US ginning up a cyberwar offensive by sniffing out "targets" overseas. Please don’t tell me the NSA is snooping around the European Union’s government computers because they’re out hunting "terrorists." And what about Japan – are we really supposed to believe the US is all that concerned about Al-Qaeda-in-Nippon, or is something else going on here? The Japanese, for their part, are just a little taken aback:

"Tokyo has also insisted that Japan will ‘strongly demand’ a clarification over the alleged spying. Tokyo said complaints will be lodged through diplomatic channels over the matter.

"We are aware of the report, but it’s not clear (whether) what was reported was true. First we will demand the truth through diplomatic channels,” said Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, adding that the country has ‘concerns’ over the situation."

Snowden is generally described in the media as an "IT specialist," a "computer whiz," etc., but his actual job title was "infrastructure analyst," according to the New York Times:

"It is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency’s aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world."

Of course they carefully avoid mentioning it, because it gives away their game. The NSA isn’t breaking into French, German, Turkish, Japanese, Italian, etc., computers because they’re gunning for "terrorists," on that you can bet the farm. They’re doing it because they can – and because there’s nobody to stop them, since it’s all done in the dark. What the Snowden revelations underscore is an under-appreciated fact that is now staring us all in the face: the US is at war with the world. As the Times put it:

"A secret presidential directive on cyberactivities unveiled by Mr. Snowden – discussing the primary new task of the N.S.A. and its military counterpart, Cyber Command – makes clear that when the agency’s technicians probe for vulnerabilities to collect intelligence, they also study foreign communications and computer systems to identify potential targets for a future cyberwar.

"Infrastructure analysts like Mr. Snowden, in other words, are not just looking for electronic back doors into Chinese computers or Iranian mobile networks to steal secrets. They have a new double purpose: building a target list in case American leaders in a future conflict want to wipe out the computers’ hard drives or shut down the phone system."

They claim it’s all in the interest of protecting us from our enemies – but who is the real "enemy" here when the NSA is busy setting up our allies for cyber-attack, as well as spying on millions of innocent Americans? Which brings us to my so far favorite part of Datagate: how the Brits in cooperation with the NSA spied on diplomats and government officials attending London gatherings of the "Group of 20," which negotiates key trade agreements. They did this "partly by luring delegates to fake Internet cafes," as the Times reports. What did this "luring" consist of? Free double-mocha fat-free lattes and a blueberry scone? Discount hookers? The mind boggles.

According to secret NSA documents detailed by the Guardian, these fake Internet cafés were customized to be “able to extract key logging info, providing creds (credentials) for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished."

Come on down to the Malware Café, folks, where your laptop will be infected with software that records your keystrokes, plunders your passwords, and alerts NSA/GCHQ whenever you log on to your favorite porn site. Yes, "we have sustained intelligence options against them," indeed.

I wonder how many such Malware Cafes have been set up in the US? How many Washington, DC, Internet cafes are bugged? How about Dearborn, Michigan? Or around the UN building in New York? Is the NSA going to Starbucks and demanding a back door to their WiFi?

For years, anti-interventionists have been warning the American people that Washington is infected with a hubristic virus, one that has driven our rulers mad with a reckless abandon that threatens not only us but the whole world. If this isn’t the proof of it, I don’t know what is.

Not that the governments of these spied on countries are in the least bit grateful for Snowden’s gift to them – indeed, they hate and resent him for it, because it exposes their utter helplessness in the face of the hegemon’s power. You’d think the Germans, the French, or one of these countries would offer Snowden sanctuary – but no. The famously cowardly French have their eye on reestablishing their colonial relationship to Syria, but can’t do it without American help. The famously subservient Germans are equally unlikely to show any gratitude, in spite of all their posturing about how they know best the perils of living in a police state.

Even the anti-American Rafael Correa, whose government flirted with the idea of harboring Snowden (just as they are protecting Julian Assange in their London embassy), is now backtracking as fast as he can after a scolding call from Joe Biden. Unilaterally rejecting that trade deal, which some US Senator threatened to scotch, was just typical Latin American leftist bombast. Ecuador, as part of Hugo Chavez’s ALBA group of Latin American "Bolivarian" regimes, is passing the ball to Venezuela, whose newly elected President, Nicolas Maduro, has expressed interest in granting Snowden asylum. And it just so happens Maduro is visiting Moscow on other business.

If Maduro takes Snowden on the plane home with him, that would suit Washington just fine, as they can portray Snowden as a kind of Philip Agee for the new millennium, a tool of "anti-American" lefties. It would also suit the Venezuelan government, which is facing rising discontent at home and is eager to divert attention away from its abysmal failures by thrusting the country into the international spotlight and playing the nationalist card.

Venezuela, I predict, is where Snowden will end up – that is, if Vladmir Putin ever lets him go. The Russian strongman’s conditional offer of asylum – "if he stops damaging our American partners" – must have sent a shiver down Snowden’s spine. So the US and the former KGB man are "partners," eh? What a cozy little arrangement! At this point, what’s to stop the FBI from flying into Sheremetyevo airport and spiriting Snowden back to the US in handcuffs? After all, isn’t that what true partnership is all about?

The Obama-Putin partnership is a marriage made in heaven: Putin can tutor the former constitutional law expert on the mechanics of setting up and maintaining a police state, while Obama can teach the Russian leader how to sing like Al Green.


I just had to write this piece for The American Conservative, it percolated in my brain and demanded to be let out, so go here to find out what I’m talking about.

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].