We Have Become A Sort Of Digital Soviet Union.

by Daniel Russ on August 4, 2013




Salon’s Andrew O’hehir is one of the best reporters in America. He speaks truth to power and he, like a lot of Americans can hardly believe the prying spying clandestine police state the country has become. In a scorching essay he reports on the utter bullshit claims of national security by people who are using the NSA and the National Reconnaissance Office to spy on literally everyone.


To me this is the military at work. Totalitarian and states run by militaries are the first entities to co-op new technologies. Once atomic power was unveiled, the first applications were weapons. Once laser technology emerged, weaponry was developed first. And now the advent of digital communications technology has been transformed into a nightmare that even Rod Serling wrote about, but probably couldn’t have imagined actually manifesting.

“Manning and Snowden peeled back the curtain of empire and showed us its inner workings. Understandably, we didn’t much like what we saw, but the real question is what we’re going to do about it. More specifically, they gave Americans a brief glimpse of our country as the rest of the world sees it, a boorish and blundering military-intelligence superpower so convinced of its moral superiority that it respects no universal human rights, no law and no authority except its own. That is so drastically at odds with most Americans’ self-perception of their homeland as the land of liberty and the Johnny Appleseed of democracy – the country of the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address and “Ich bin ein Berliner” – that we’re in grave danger of shutting our eyes to it and retreating into comforting mythology.

You don’t have to believe that Manning and Snowden handled their lonely ethical dilemmas with perfect grace, or that every single document they leaked should have been released, to see that they opened a kind of Pandora’s box, unleashing a series of larger historical questions that feed on each other. Some of these are pretty basic, if not always easy to answer. Is transparency preferable to secrecy, in general, and who gets to decide? If the United States military has committed war crimes, or our government has decided to spy on the cell-phone conversations and Web-surfing habits of the entire world, do we have a right to know?

Then there’s the fact that the substance of Manning and Snowden’s revelations has permanently changed our perceptions of our own government. At least, it should have. Given the immense and unprecedented expansion of government secrecy, high-tech surveillance, clandestine intelligence operations, “extraordinary rendition” and “black sites,” extrajudicial killings and other forms of Voldemortian dark magic over the last two presidencies, why in God’s name should we trust anything these people do or anything they tell us?

Leading political figures from both parties, along with the mainstream commentators of the pundit class, are overtly and suspiciously eager to distract us from the actual contents of the Snowden-Manning leaks, and what they tell us about what America has become. Instead we are diverted toward the meta-details of their stories: What anti-social weirdos these guys are and what forms of punishment are too good for them and how sick you would get of the food-court chow in Sheremetyevo Airport after the first few days. (I actually never saw that story, but I sure wondered about it.) One big reason to nominate Manning and Snowden for the Nobel is to counterattack this information-age tendency of the news cycle to grind every story into trivia and low-grade “ironic” commentary. Whether you approve of them or not, these two aren’t just oddballs. They’re oddballs who revealed the secrets of the greatest military power in the history of the world, at enormous personal risk.

That my friends, is journalism and let’s be positive about it. This is good news to see the Internet expose the apodictic and sad state of affairs in the US government.


Well, at least this ended on a point of good news.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

leo lafreniere August 16, 2013 at 6:29 am

when is someone going to step up to the plate?

Daniel Russ August 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

people are scared

Roger Burn September 17, 2013 at 2:49 am

if you want to join a real change. I will let you in on some interesting details. I am recruiting, if you think people are scared then it’s obvious we’ve never met, so email me, then wait for my reply, follow the instructions, then we’ll discuss further. I am stepping up against the curtain our government closes in front of us, only to make us sit in suspence of what is happen next. We have fallen far from our path, and it’s time we the people fix the problem. Tear down the curtain and stand. (dustin.k.wilson24@gmail.com)

Daniel Russ September 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Keep in mind one thing. I don’t endorse violent revolution. I believe the US govt is utterly corrupt and it does very bad things. But I still have my life and my family to take care of.

The best thing you could do to make things better is vote.

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