Once again, an invaluable source who had lots of documents, detailing the depth of the sinister things that the US government is doing to its own citizens and the ironic thing is that all these uber-secret programs exist to “fight terrorism” and to “stop terrorist plots” and other similar excuses.
Well, I, myself, think that Edward Snowden is a HERO. A goddamn hero who risked not only his career and reputation – i.e., by releasing this information to the UK paper, The Guardian, I’m sure he knew he was throwing away his security clearance that he had -in a lucky way – received. But he has, by the idiotic act of identifying himself as the source of the “leak”, risking his very freedom. But, to his thinking, it was “damn the consequences”, this information NEEDS to be disseminated to the public – Americans need to know that private companies, Verizon, as far as we know, has been willingly and without even a raised eyebrow, rushed to give the government anything they wanted. Now, mind you, this PRIVATE information that Verizon’s customers (in this case, at least, it was made known that it was Verizon’s business customers whose telephone “metadata” was being handed over – all of it – to the NSA; every bit of contact information: the times of the calls: what time the calls started, what time they ended, the duration of the calls, where they came from – and, contrary to what some may think, this was not about intercepting this “metadata” only between American citizens who were calling foreign telephone numbers, but a wholesale list of every single call made between Americans, initiated by Americans. As for this thing about Verizon’s business customers being the targets this time, it was a long list of data that had to do with every single call that was made inside America, between American businesses. This was a specific order to Verizon – to provide the US govt. with the telephone records of their Verizon Business Services clients who communicate with various other Americans – vendors, suppliers, employees, intercompany communication and the like. It’s also no secret that this same amassing of “metadata” has been going on in a much more personal way – going through all Americans’ phone records – it may not be the exact content of the phone call, but it has the time called, time ended, duration and the phone numbers (of course) of the two parties.
Thankfully, this nefarious practice has been unearthed by the brave, heroice Edward Snowden, whose only dumb thing was to give out his name – not only that, but he is a sitting duck in Hong Kong; if he doesn’t think the Chinese will gladly hand him over to American authorities, he’s sadly mistaken. I’d heard talk, initially, of Snowden fleeing to Iceland to ask for political asylum there – I don’t know why Iceland, but there must be a strategic reason for it – lack of extradition treaties or less bureaucratic red tape involved in seeking important asylum requests that are time-sensitive and need to be resolved before the Americans send out the black-op hit squad to silence Snowden – one way or another. If he stays, like he said he was going to, in Hong Kong, I fear for his life. Who’s to say that Ed won’t be walking home one day from the store or a bar or somewhere and just before he reaches the relative safety of his home, he’s shot in the back of the head – whether it’s by a phantom that quickly disappears into a black SUV and races off or some Chinese street gang hitman who rides by on a motorcycle, guns poor Edward down and speeds off into the night. I know it sounds fantastic – like a movie or a novel, perhaps, but, as we all know, truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. I really hope this guy gets to a safe haven as fast as possible.
Now that the horses are stampeding out of the barn (and I hope they knock down the White House doors and upend everything in it, metaphorically speaking, of course), the congress has started to hold hearings, looking into the exact information that has been already given to the NSA, regarding our private communications, Well, we’ve been assured by the president that “We’re not listening to your phone calls…” – and, ok, so they’re not listening to our calls – but guess what? Now, they have a huge database that is only going to get bigger and bigger until every single communication is stored on a hard drive somewhere in their big new “data center” in rural Utah along with the myriad other sites wherein it houses these supercomputers. So, while our phone calls are not being listened to, the parameters of those communications are being stored in supercomputers for use at a later time. What we heard from the director of the NSA is that, now that we have all this “metadata”, if the government got wind of some nefarious “terrorist” plot to blow something up in the U.S., then all the intelligence community would have to do is to get more secret permission from the same secret court that approved this conduct in the first place (FISA) or else a criminal search warrant from your garden-variety district court, and go into that database, use a little cross-referencing and find out what these people who are going to blow us up are communicating on and find out what their “metadata” is and then we’d be able to go and get the content of those calls. Then we would have smug, smarmy politicians who would say “look – see, we stopped another terror plot from happening – we are keeping you, America, safe!”
When Bush (Dubya) was president and was doing the same thing – the warrantless wiretapping and all that – and then great reporters such as Dana Bash, for the Washington Post exposed this activity it caused a great furor not just in D.C. but all over the country – hell, probably globally. But the difference in that case and the one that Snowden uncovered for us was that what Bush was doing – at the time he was doing it – was outright illegal. There was no basis for eavesdropping, in a fishnet kind of way, that they were doing – spearheaded by the disgraced former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, who, finally, after trying to persuade congress, the press and the American people that things like this as well as torture of suspects being interrogated, resigned – under pressure, I’m sure, from Dubya. So, what did congress do? They went and just changed the law and they did it retroactively, so that all the insidious crap that Gonzales and Dubya and co. were doing turned out, legally to be just barely legal. So, now when Obama wants to do the very same things that we all hated Bush for doing – he just goes about it the way the law is set up – he followed the letter of the law (but certainly not the spirit of the mores and norms of American Society) by seeking a warrant from the super-secret FISA court and got his warrant and was therefore able to do all of this outrageous stuff LEGALLY. So, back in 2004 or so, when Dana Bash uncovered the illegal warrantless wiretapping going on – she was hailed as a great whistleblower and a boon to our democracy. But now that the untrustworthy congress has made it legal to spy on Americans – for no real reason – people who have no connection to even foreigners in other countries, much less even a hint of terrorist association, Snowden is reviled as a leaker and a lawbreaker and worse. Even Dianne Feinstein called said that his actions were “treason” and a bunch of chorus girls from the GOP chimed in with similar comments. But the thing is – what Edward Snowden did – whether you agree with it or not – cannot be called “treason” under the constitution. Snowden did not “aid or abet any enemy of the United States”, nor did he “take up arms against the United States to overthrow the government” – those are the two criteria that must be proven to have taken place. But also, specifically written in the “treason” section in the US Constitution, it reads that at least “TWO witnesses” must have witnessed the accused doing this alleged treason. Now, it is obvious – anyone who isn’t a total idiot or brainwashed so badly from right-wing propaganda – that Snowden’s only motive here was to give this information to the Guardian newspaper, of the UK. His stated purpose was that this sort kind of overreaching government intrusions and the whittling away of our fourth (and even our fifth) amendment doesn’t justify this action. The government can babble all they want about wanting to protect Americans from “terrorists” and so on, but they still don’t have the constitutional right to impede on our 4th amendment right against illegal search and seizure. And then there is the AP scandal, in which about 20 phones that the AP had been using to phone in stories from the road, so to speak, we’re being tapped as part of a leak investigation. There is so much more to go on with that it’s just more and more angering as you read what you’re government is doing to you.
All I can say to those fat, happy, mindless consumers who don’t care about anything except getting the newest I-Phone, I-Pad or the latest fashions and television sets that say “What? Me Worry?” are going to wake up one day and wonder where their freedoms went. The only thing I have, in response to all the rationalizing by the government about the heavy-handed. overreaching tactics that they’re doing – and the fact that they keep every aspect of it secret – including the fact that this kind of intrusion is even happening is this, and it’s an old saying (I think it was Thomas Jefferson who originally said it, but it is still a very apt and true adage): “When We Give up [certain] Liberties for ‘Security’, We Get NEITHER”. That is the sum of it all and the way things are going now, things are only going to get worse – and guess what: if terrorists really wanted to bomb something somewhere, they would do it. So, just don’t get lulled into this false sense that “everything’s just fine – just trust us – now go shopping” -because it’s not “fine” – no matter how authoritarian this government gets, no matter how much privacy we lose, we’ll never be safe from a determined mindset that wants to destroy the Great Satan. -KM