Dim Awareness of “a grave sense of betrayal” on Snooping

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In reporting found in today’s New York Times (found at the bottom of an article entitled “Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance”), I found the following:

Ms. Lofgren [Zoe Lofgren (Chairman of House Ethics Committee 2009–2011)] said the White House and Democratic and Republican leaders had not come to grips with what she called “a grave sense of betrayal” that greeted Mr. Snowden’s revelations. Since the Bush administration, lawmakers had been repeatedly assured that such indiscriminate collection of data did not exist, and that when targeting was unspecific, it was aimed at people abroad.

In its understated, and sometimes blundering way, the Times, if not Ms. Lofgren, has put its finger on what I believe to be the heart of the issue. The “sense of betrayal” is the bottom line of public sentiment from all quarters. Even the most paranoid among us couldn’t have imagined in 2001 or 2002 the extent of surveillance that would emerge post 9/11. However, concern about privacy issues was considered “fringe” until Edward Snowden’s documentation made it hard for the government to continue its denials. The Emperor’s New Clothes had been revealed. The “mainstream” was now forced to come to grips with an issue they’d been in denial over for the past decade or so.

The American public wants to believe the lies the government pours forth in an unending stream. They have an investment in their government, and thus want to believe it is a good one. But, wishing for a thing does not make it so. Americans have a great resistance to seeing the corruption, greed, and criminality in their government. It takes a strong case to shine through the smoke and haze, and it appears that Edward Snowden’s released documents finally made the case that will turn the tide of opinion of the American public.

Still, buyer’s remorse looms large in America’s consumer society. Americans may still choose to blindly embrace their corrupt and nearly bankrupted government rather than face the truth with all its consequences. Should that happen, there will come another tide, and then another. The rising waters of accumulated megalomania and neglect are drowning the current generation of despots. What will replace them?