One of my favorite novels is Catch 22. In the novel Yossarian, the protagonist, tends to a wounded comrade named Snowden after flak hits their plane during a bombing raid. At first Yossarian thinks he has found Snowden’s wound and bandaged it. But Snowden complains of being cold and Yossarian realizes to his horror that Snowden has a much more serious wound. When Yossarian opens Snowden’s flak suit, Snowden’s guts spill out.
The recent story of NSA spying revealed by contract analyist Edward Snowden, made me recall the scene from Catch 22. In a particularlly ironic twist, both Snowden’s spill their guts. One literally and one figuratively.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Edward Snowden is a hero for revealing NSA spying to Americans. I find it just as loathsome when President Obama, rather then President Bush, is doing the spying, unlike many Democratic partisans.
Of course, this revelation of spying is hardly a surprise. Anyone who has read James Bamford’s, Puzzle Palace, knows that the NSA and the UK’s NSA equivalent–GCHQ, have since their inception, spied on each others citizens, then exchanged the data. That way each of the agencies chiefs can stand before their respective governments and swear that, no sir, we do not spy on our own citizens. These programs evolved into a program called Echelon.
“Bamford describes Eschelon as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.”
This program still exists. Only now it goes by a different moniker and has become vastly more comprehensive, as Snowden’s ongoing revelations make clear. These revelations, rather than focusing attention on these egregious violations by the NSA, have placed Snowden in the crosshairs of US government officials, many of whom have labeled him a traitor.
“Snowden made classified information about widespread surveillance available to the American public. That’s a curious definition of an enemy for US legislators to adopt.”
The way the US press has treated this expose has shown their servility. Our, so called, “free press” puppets the official narrative far more effectively than any state controlled media possibly could, as Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist, who broke the story, makes abundantly clear.
“Our NSA stories have been published and discussed in countless countries around the world, where they have sparked shock, indignation and demands for investigation. So revealingly, it is only American journalists – and them alone – who have decided to focus their intrepid journalistic attention not on the extremist and legally dubious surveillance behavior of the US government and serial deceit by its top officials, but on those who revealed all of that to the world.”
These revelations by Snowden demonstrates how our government spies on us, and lies about it.
This spying does not make us any safer. In fact it clearly demonstrates who our government views as the enemy–us.
“The Obama administration and the NSA have claimed domestic spying on Americans is necessary to prevent ‘terrorist’ attacks. From 1970 to 2013 approximately 3,500 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks. That is around 81 deaths per year attributable to terrorism. It is estimated an average 195,000 people per year die from preventable medical errors. And as both the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the recent Boston Marathon bombings illustrate, it was the Federal government’s failure to respond to actionable intelligence gathered through traditional methods that preceded the attacks, not an absence of the information needed to prevent them. This renders the official U.S. storyline around the dangers of terrorism and ‘the government’s’ response to it contrived misdirection. The NSA is conducting increasingly intrusive domestic surveillance, but preventing ‘terrorism’ has nothing to do with its reasons for doing so.”
“What is being run right now is a vast experiment to see if modern technology has fixed these problems with surveillance and oppressive states. Is it cheap enough to go full Stasi, and with that level of surveillance can you keep control over the economy, keep the levers working, make people do what you want, and not all slack off and resist passively, by only going through the motions?”
“The oligarchs are betting that the technology has made that change. With the end of serious war between primary nations (enforced by nukes, among other things), with the creation of a transnational ruling class, and with the ability to scale surveillance, it may be possible to take and keep control indefinitely, and bypass the well understood problems of oligarchy and police and surveillance states.”
Famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsburg says that the US is a different country than when he released the Pentagon Papers.
“I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.”
Thank you Edward Snowden. I hope you are granted asylum somewhere warm.
Update: At least someone gets it.
“…yesterday a former GOP senator for the state of New Hampshire, Gordon Humphrey, emailed Snowden to tell him, “Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution.”
“Humphrey added, “Having served in the United States Senate for twelve years as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.”
“The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald posted the email from Humphrey and a reply from Snowden, where Snowden told Humphrey, “Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles – the actions I’ve taken would not have been necessary.”
“The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus on personalities,” Snowden wrote in the email. “It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, in such times, loving one’s country means being hated by its government.”