Snowden Nails It Plus “Dear Zelda”

Edward Snowden’s testimony before the EU is now publicly available. The document, which can be found here, begins thus:



So if these mass, “nonsuspicious” surveillance programs are ineffective about stopping terrorism, what then is their purpose?

It’s the same old list. First, of course the “Deep State.” That is, the intelligence community equivalent of the Military Industrial Complex. The unfortunate thing about repeating this over and over is that it loses its impact. The stranglehold these public-private sectors hold over policy is just that. Policy winds up being fixed around what makes someone money and that does not always, perhaps now rarely, jives with the interests of the country as a whole and the world at large. Snowden’s point, one I’ve made here many times, is that we are less safe, not more safe, as a result of these abuses, these illegal programs. Though he primarily focuses on how it erodes society and how the real threats get missed, there’s something to be said for spending so much money and handing it over to people who lie, cheat, steal, sneak, and deceive for a living {in this case, I don’t mean politicians, but as the shoe fits…}. What do we expect the result to be? Of course there are going to be programs aimed at furthering the business interests of favored corporations, things like insider trading, political hit jobs, and worse because it’s too large to do the job under which it was approved: fighting terrorism.

Another interesting piece from First Look focuses on an internal NSA network advice article. The author comes to the same conclusion that any sane person would: this describes well what is happening in the US overall as a result of anything goes style cloak-and-dagger. Anyone who doubts that is happening, please explain what would prevent it. FBI, even back when it was primarily a law enforcement agency, was not typically keen on investigating the illegalities of other members of the intelligence community. Now that it has officially admitted it has a counter-intelligence/counter-terrorism role, it’s like turning on a jumbotron with the words “FREE MONEY–STEAL ALL YOU WANT.”

Though there was a whole slew of abuses during the time that COINTELPRO was discovered {through a physical break-in of an FBI field office in Pennsylvania}, and that was just one of the few we found out about, one point was politicians in both the Executive branch and the Legislative using NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. for their own political and personal uses. There is no better comparison with the former Soviet Union than that kind of activity, especially when you throw in smears like “so-and-so is a Communist/secret Muslim/Russian agent/etc.” That is what defined Soviet Russia as an undesirable place to live, an undesirable system to live under: that false rumor {aka RUMINT, aka poison pen} could find someone ruined, imprisoned, or dead. The same kind of extreme paranoia used as weapon happened in fascist Germany as well.

That’s where the US is now. It might not be as extreme or open {if it were, I would likely be unable to mention it, though perhaps also I would not need to}, but it is happening. And that is unacceptable.

The gist:

‘ … this kind of secrecy begets more secrecy and it becomes a downward spiral that destroys teamwork. What if you put an end to all the secrecy by bringing it out in the open?’

Her column reads like an unintended allegory – or a cleverly masked one. The NSA’s own advice columnist explores the ways in which pervasive surveillance can erode freedom of expression and social cohesion by making it difficult for people to have faith in the privacy of their communications.

First Look/The Intercept, “The NSA Has an Advice Columnist. Seriously,” Peter Maass, 7 March 2014:

Do you see anyone in DC, Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, actually doing anything about it? Most are excusing it, making idiotic statements like NSA has privacy in it’s veins {imagine the founding fathers accepting that in lieu of separation of powers}, lies like Snowden could have done something else {he raised issues ten times internally to no avail}, and anyone who questions authority–which has only been consistent in getting it wrong–is a traitor.

Our leaders have failed us.


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