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.