December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: asylum, Brazil, EDWARD SNOWDEN, leaks, NSA, power, terrorism 


 They’re about power… Not prevention of terrorism.


Snowden reveals his belief of the real purpose of NSA spying in an open letter to the people of  Brazil published in the Brazilian newspaper Folia de Sao Paulo                       

 Saying: ” There is a huge difference between legal programs , legitimate spying , legitimate law enforcement- where individuals are targeted on a reasonable individualized suspicion- and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations behind an all seeing eye and save copies for ever. These programs were never about terrorism: They’re about economic spying , social control and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

Snowden’s insight into the nature of the NSA program and other government programs that it was basically control of whole populations of people rather than to locate terrorists is correct. How many terrorists did they expect to locate in the president of Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff’s personal calls or Angela Merkal, Chancellor of Germany’s personal calls or the personal calls of millions of ordinary people scooped up en mass.

NSA programs were allegedly different for foreigners than for American people where only “meta data” was collected. However there is evidence that not only meta data was being collected in the United States but every electronic communication as well with the justification we only look at substance after we have suspicions that the creator has committed a crime.

This is an enormous power far beyond necessary policing power or the power allegedly necessary to combat terrorists and apparently ineffectual in that regard. We knew nothing about the plans of Boston bombers before hand or the Times Square bomber in advance.

We  once had a Federal bureau of Investigation head,  J. Edgar Hoover, who collected files on politicians and other people he wished to control for almost  forty years. This helped to maintain his powerful position in Washington until he died long past his effectiveness as  the leader of the  FBI. This megalomaniac let  criminal organizations like the Mafia flower on his watch  while puffing up his crime fighting statistics by adding to the total every minor crime. Taking a stolen or reportedly stolen car over state lines was a big item. He became a master of his own self importance while investigating ordinary citizens and politicians in order to intimidate them for his own power rather than for the safety of the public.

You say this information the NSA seek  could not be used to control people and enhance their own power but as said above  it has already been done by Hoover.

The Framers of the Constitution were escaping oppressive British rule and control of their lives. That is why we have separation of powers in our own government and Fourth Amendment guarantees against illegal searches and seizures among other things.

Yet when so much power and control is centralized in a few agencies of government the opportunities for abuse of that power are great.  The FISA  oversight court and the congressional committees charged with protecting the values of the Constitution are willing to look with a blind eye or willing to bend basic principles based on the testimony of the mangers of the very agencies they are supposed to supervise and control in the interest of the public. These agencies may not always divulge the true nature and scope of their activities. Witness National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s misleading testimony before Congress on the nature of data collected.

Richard J. Leon A Federal District Court Judge  In Washinton D.C.  has already ruled that collection of meta data on all electronic communications is in violation of the Fourth Amendment saying “ I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval” Also he noted that the alleged threat that the government said justified the program was never proved.  Usually the Government demands, due to national security, that the proceeding be in- camera, which means that whatever information they give the judge is not disclosed to the other side or the public and goes unrebutted just as their  testimony before Congress justifying their programs is in secret session unknown to the majority of legislators or the public.

The system that now exists is can easily abused by a government more intent on perpetuating itself in the guise of protecting the public against some external threat. North Korea is doing that now, the Soviet Union did  for most of the Twentieth Century and Snowden rightly perceived that is the direction this country is headed for now. As Lord Acton observed: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

What we see now is that the agencies collecting the data are the ones presenting their justification before select courts in secret and to select members of Congress in secret.  In other words the agencies are in control and not the public or their their appointed judges and representatives. This is a recipe for a dictatorship or an oligarchy if that is not the case already. In any event the machinery for such a political coup establishing a police state like East Germany’s during the Cold War  is already in place

The people who have tried to disseminate what was going on before Snowden have lost their jobs, been imprisoned and disparaged as traitors.

Snowden, being rational, took the only course possible since the Executive, the FISA Court and Congress was nonresponsive. He lost his job, is now called a traitor and forced into exile while responsible managers of the agencies disassemble before  Congress and the public saying the external treat is so great that their activities must be condoned. It is always some amorphous external threat, usually greatly exaggerated, which is used as the justification of the suspension of civil liberties and the imposition of a police state.














One has to wonder the impact of the video of the Apache Attack Helicopter attack and the death of the
http://youtu.be/25EWUUBjPMo   and the death of the men in a Bagdad street had on 22 year old Bradley Manning when he first saw the  gunship attack on unknown men dressed in mufti on a street via copies of the gunships video cameras which were in a classified file he had accessed.

The attack allegedly occurred when the crew of the helicopter was called in by ground troops because there was insurgent unrest in the area and troops had been fired on.  The crew thought the men were armed. It turned out it was Reuter’s newsmen with cameras with large lenses. Apparently another two of the eight or nine in the group allegedly were armed with an AK-47 and maybe an RPG launcher but they were not firing or holding the weapons in any confrontational manner.

The men were fired on and wounded or killed. A passerby in a van who stopped in a humanitarian attempt to help the wounded and dying was also attacked. There were two children ages 6 and 9 in this vehicle who were also injured. The attack helicopter circled around after the initial attack killing anyone who was wounded but appeared to be alive.  Usually the Geneva Conventions does not condone the killing of unarmed wounded men.

Bradley who was 5’2, 105 lbs and homosexual with gender identity problems was accepted into the Army’s 101st Mountain Division in 208 in 2008 and after training  deployed to Iraq as an intelligence specialist.

There he had access to the Apache Attack Helicopter videos, combat reports and diplomatic cables.  Approximately  700,000 items in all were copied by him. He managed to download this material on to a thumb drive and later to smuggle the material on a camera digital card out of his camp. At some point in late 2010 he gave the materials unredacted to Julian Assange of Wiki Leaks. Exactly where, when or how this transfer was made is unknown and the rest is history.

Now he has been tried and awaits sentencing. He previously pled guilty to 10 of the lesser charges against him in exchange of a sentence of 16 years. He was acquitted of the charge of aiding the enemy which could have carried a life sentence without parole. However the Judge who presided over the trial, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of 17 of the 22 charges in their entirety which included five counts of espionage and theft. His sentencing hearing is in progress

Edward Snowden, born June 21, 1983, was enraged enough to act when as  a computer infrastructure analyst expert for the NSA, CIA and later as an independent contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton a giant government contractor he determined that the NSA was not only collecting telephone call  meta data (time, numbers locations etc.) inside and outside  the United States but also capturing and storing the substance of the calls as well as all computer online activity including e-mails , web browsing and other activities.

Both men felt compelled to download and leak the data. Manning, to Wiki Leaks who shared it with the Guardian, N.Y. Times and the Washington Post in the United States and the equivalent foreign newspapers in Germany and Spain.

Snowden leaked to the Guardian which is slowly releasing the information he gave them on government spying activities.

Both men believed the government was engaged in illegal activities and concealing them from the public.

They saw themselves as whistleblowers although they did not avail themselves of The Whistleblower Statute and its procedures, perhaps because others had done so ineffectually and to their detriment.

Both men come from middleclass families whose fathers were careerists in the military. Manning’s father was an enlisted man in intelligence in the Navy and Snowden’s father was a career Coast Guard officer.

Both were computer literate neither was well educated formally.

Neither man acted for mercenary reasons but with great sacrifice to themselves. Manning probably will be subject to a long prison term. Snowden is in self exile in Russia right now.  A place without a clear definition or protection  of privacy rights.

Interestingly enough while the Justice Department and the Army has doggedly pursued these men on criminal violations no criminal charges has been brought against the actors on the government side.

For Example on March 12, 2013 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence James Clapper, Director Of National Intelligence, said this about surveillance while under oath testifying to the Senate:

(Senator) Wyden asked Director Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Response: “No, sir.”

Wyden asked “It does not.” and Clapper said “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”

Another is the Apache helicopter incident when the wounded, unarmed man is machine-gunned to death while trying to crawl to safety, probably a war crime.

There seems to be a double standard in operation here. Leakers are punished severely probably as a warning to others while on the government side wrong doing even to the extent of killing a wounded unarmed man or a massive invasion of the public’s Fourth Amendment rights is overlooked or excused away as fog of war occurrences or necessary for protection against terrorism.


Today, August 8, 2013, on  the Washington Post’s Wonkblog  in a post by Ezra Klein, Edward Snowden was called a “patriot” in small case because of the measures President Obama said he was taking in regard to safeguarding American’s privacy which were a direct response to Snowden’s disclosures.