The U.S. Government has taken to competing with Snowden documents to try to stop the hemorrhaging of truth about the extent of NSA data collecting. In recent days we have seen a declassified court document declaring that the NSA committed a relatively minor “oops” of collecting some “tens of thousands” of domestic emails.
The National Security Agency illegally collected tens of thousands of domestic emails before being stopped in 2011. The disclosure was made Wednesday in a newly declassified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees NSA spying. The FISC ordered the NSA to change its procedures after the agency admitted to wrongly collecting up to 56,000 emails a year over a three-year period. The NSA says the illegal email collection resulted from technical error, not deliberate snooping. — Democracy Now! [8/22/2013]
Make no mistake, this is a psyops/disinformation campaign. It’s as if they’re going into the Court of Public Opinion to cut a plea deal:
Instead of going to trial for total bulk collection of data, the Government would plead guilty for the inappropriate collection of a few thousand emails in return for getting a lighter sentence, and the possibility that they might continue their criminal enterprise of total data collection.
- The People would agree to forget about the illegal massive bulk collection, the corrupt cloak of secrecy, and go back to business as usual, even going so far as to feel comfortable with it, as President Obama has insisted.
- The Government would feel free to do whatever it wants, including limitless expansion of data collection, and trampling of basic freedoms.
- We would no longer have a democracy. Democracy would no longer be possible anywhere on the planet, but we could pretend, moving forward.
- The Government is banking on the hope that The People will share and keep up the pretense that “These aren’t the ‘droids we’re looking for, move along” and that things will just go back to the way they were (which they never do).
It’s a bold move, but I really do question if the American public is that stupid. The public is a big ship to turn around, but it’s already well into the maneuver, and stopping it will not be easy for the Government. It will take more than a little grease and bullsh*t. One of the things that has slowed the public awakening to the violations that have been committed against it has been grasping the practical implication of bulk data collection on day-to-day life. The same has been true for the lamestream media. However, journalists and talking heads at the edge of the lamestream media, such as Tor creator Jacob Applebaum on August 20th’s Democracy Now!, have pointed out in unambiguous language that democracies and free markets cannot exist in a global surveillance state and provided clear examples of why they can’t.
“I think, at its core, what is at stake is the ability for a human being to have dignity and for journalists to have integrity with their sources. And from that, I believe that it threatens the whole concept of a free democracy. This is, I think, in a sense, being shown in the last 48 hours to the extreme. And I don’t mean that as hyperbole. But if everything is under surveillance, how is it that you can have a democracy? How is it that you can organize a political function or have confidentiality with a constituent or with a source, or with a friend or with a lover? That’s fundamentally an erasure of fundamental things that we have had for quite some time.
And planetary surveillance has very serious concerns, not the least of which is economic espionage, and not the least of which, I think, for me, personally, is about journalistic source protection. I mean, how is it that we will be able to protect our sources if there’s no way to securely meet, no way to communicate about having a meeting, no way to actually communicate about basic facts? There’s no such thing as on or off the record, when in fact you don’t control the record. And it’s not merely a matter of whether or not we have something to hide, because it is not us that will decide whether we have something to hide. It is an analyst somewhere. It is a machine learning algorithm somewhere.
And this is the thing that is perhaps the most terrifying: Because people are flagged, then other people are dispatched. Each person plays their role, and more and more a machine plays that role, a machine that does not understand constitutional protections, does not understand the Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights, does not understand humanity. It’s a machine. And the humans, they behave like machines, too, which is a great fear, that humans will start to behave like machines. And so, what is at stake is in fact democracy, where we still have it, and the free press. ” — Jacob Applebaum 8/20/2013
And so, for those who feel powerless to act in their democratic society (and yet, isn’t that the purpose of a democratic society?), one often hears the lament alluded to by Jacob Appelbaum, above:
“well, shucks, I have nothing to hide. I’m not important. I try to straitjacket myself with the Orwellian rules imposed on me at all times, and comply with commands given by designated authorities immediately and without question.”
The hurdle until recently has been to get the masses beyond that point. Luckily, Edward Snowden came along with a sufficient amount of information in addition to Bradley Manning’s (and many others) to reach the tipping point. The heavy hand of the government since has shattered the illusion of The Emperor’s New Clothes, and just as in the parable, small children are speaking up and shredding the pretense of the Government shared with older people who don’t wish to bothered or inconvenienced by reality. As with Humpty Dumpty, all the King’s horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again. Once an illusion is shattered, one can’t go back into the illusion. Not fully.