Traitor or hero, no one person has done more to upend a growing police state infrastructure than a single insider named Edward Snowden. Five years ago when Julian Assange opened a website that revealed US government secrets, the US government reacted like a bit snake. Rattling and arresting and japing at every target they could find, the US began to look like the USSR. Even the new charmant prince was bobbing and weaving like an old KGB operative who had been caught in the night going through the pockets of his friend. I have to tip my hat to Snowden for his courage and his conviction. There is simply no other way he could have done this than the way he did it. Bradley Manning was another young man who was astonished at the massive perfidy being perpetrated upon the public and he turned coat as well. He was treated to humiliation and torture. The whistleblowers Obama promised to protect while he was on the way to the Whitehouse were now drone targets. He could arrest at will or literally kill a whistleblower and execute this with legislation he himself sponsored and signed. But Snowden’s revelations are monumental. And they are still being trickled out in a never ending story of perfidy and lies. And the Obama Admniistration has wielded enough power to have pinned all three of them, Snowden, Manning and Assange like cornered rats. Imagine the titanic battle they know they have in front of them as the world demonstrates that it is powerless to protect any of these men in the face of the one Superpower. Again, heroes or traitors depends on your point of view, but the cynicism that the US government garners over spying US citizens comes at its own behest.
Soviet Union Joke from the 1970s. Russian children only get two presents in their lives: one for each parent they turn in to the KGB.
The interlocking revelations continue to build and to erode the trust people have in the government. I know that’s a big statement. Without another panegyric about security, the truth is that we might be the first American generation in decades that has no faith whatsoever in the honesty or integrity of our government, and not in a general sense, but our overall sentiments are that they are corrupt through and through. I don’t need Rasmussen or Quinnipiac either, I hear it at bars and on planes and in restaurants. Americans have become another group of Soviet citizens, aware of the malicious intent of the governors of the country but with a shrug about our powerlessness we accept it all. Perhaps malicious intent is too strong. I believe most Americans really doubt that this data culling has anyone to do with security. It has to do with power.
In order, we learned that the US is keeping massive amounts of data secret from us.
Then we learned it is spying on all of us.
Then we learned the government is spying on everything we do or say.
Then we learned that it is storing the data.
Then we learned that they can go through your computer without it even being turned on.
Then we learned that the NSA intercepts some computers to install malware.
Then we learned we are all just exhausted with this. We are barely able to navigate through life without realizing that the government has more power than they perhaps should.
Then we heard some limp dick defense of the data gathering rendered into almost Cold War rhetoric about terrorist operations foiled because of the spying.
Trust is a hard thing to re-earn once you’ve lost it. Obama tells us that Snowden breached the trust that he was given. Most of us think so did the President, this one, the one I supported in both elections.
Today’s NSA policy speech from Obama will not be interesting. Predictably. And I make this prediction right now: he will make powerful promises, calumniate against executive over reach, then he’ll pop a few well written memes and at the end of the day, essentially the NSA will retain its ability.
Bernie Sanders is an elected national Senator. He asked the NSA to reveal whether they are spying on him, and he got no definitive answer.
That’s how powerful the NSA is. They are literally not answerable to elected representatives.
My prediction for the speech: Obama will continue to defend the program, install largely ceremonial and innocuous checks. The NSA will get the same slap on the wrist the Wall Street perps got.
We all know spying and information warfare is a component of life in today’s world. We are not naive and think we can fight our enemies with the Marquis De Queensbury’s rules when they re cage fighting. On the other hand, it really shouldn’t be necessary to consider all your countrymen a person of interest.
Well, as I predicted, and the press largely agrees with me: a big provocative speech with no substance. Just ideas about a private review board, and who should get to keep the meta data. All hat and no cattle.