Thursday, May 29, 2014

Edward Snowden and NSA: Spies, Patriots, & Confidence Men

Edward Snowden and Actuality Television
By Jerry W. Ward, Jr.    


Fifteen minutes after the broadcast of the long-awaited “Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden,” the nicely photographed NBC interview with Brian Williams, we know little more about this brilliant man than we knew fifteen minutes before the program aired.  He speaks very good Standard American English. His presentation of self is disarmingly innocent.  In fact, he is so pristinely innocent that were he to be “disappeared” by aliens, the Roman Catholic Church would be obligated to give him sainthood immediately.  Edward Snowden is not one of us.

The bit of truth that Snowden communicated to Williams has to do with how the United States of American as a security state has held the United States Constitution hostage since 9/11 and how very powerful technology has destroyed belief that privacy can again become operative.

Once destroyed, privacy is possible only in theory and fantasy. All world governments know that.  It is unpleasant to think about what world governments knew about our President and our military and our intelligence agencies prior to the advent of Snowden.  It is more disconcerting to think about what Snowden has enabled them to know as “fact,” because one is free to believe he only leaked an immense amount of encrypted NSA disinformation.  If that be true, our world has entered an advanced state of “science faction.” Damage is damage is damage.

 Snowden revealed little about his grandfather who allegedly worked for the FBI.  Given that the NBC program allowed us to guess whatever we wanted to guess, one might guess that the grandfather never told Snowden that the FBI and other surveillance agencies had a quite long history of spying on United States citizens at home and abroad. Thus, he had to discover the obscenity of reality by working not as a systems analyst but as a bona fide spy. It is easy to believe that Snowden does not have a family and the he would have great difficulty in producing a birth certificate. I believe Snowden did indeed lie about having destroyed information before he left Hong Kong for Russia.  One does not destroy information that is worth a trillion dollars in the blue market.

 In a very smart rhetorical gesture, Snowden asserted that he is still working for the United States, the country he loves passionately. I believe he did tell the truth about his current employment, although he failed to provide a job description. Had he been less “in love” with his country, Snowden would probably not have done the right thing wrongly or the wrong thing rightly.  He is as transparent as that marvelous novella by Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw.” And the television-viewing public has been royally corkscrewed. Do not blame Obama for that.  Blame the hidden and sinister powers that really control NBC and other forms of mass media.

It is not surprising that Snowden does not know whether he is guilty or blameless.  Were he merely an actor on reality TV, he would be able to explain his moral state, his ethics without engaging sophisticated trash talk.  But like Brian Williams, Snowden is trapped in actuality television, a research area that within less than a decade will become our most vital and viable non-academic discipline.

May 28, 2014

Glenn Greenwald, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA and The U.S. Surveillance State, Metropolitan Books, 2014

In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.

Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens—and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.

Oh, George, Review by Danny Schechter

“Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”—George Orwell

May 23, 2014

Oh, George
By Danny Schechter

We need you now,
more than ever, ever
to help us wade through
new words of war by wankers
high on high tech
& fudged perceptions
in a security bubble of insecurity

We need help, George,
penetrating acronyms
of government gone wild
of spies & lies
and the madness
of the overtly clever
and covertly maniacal

Hey, Hey, NSA
How many emails did you ‘process’ today?
How many calls did you convert
into acres of unread metadata
stored somewhere in Utah
until the big roundup
that’s coming soon

Hey, Hey, NSA, why do you play
with code names
coined with a clear intent
to maim
and restrain?
So lame.

No comments:

Post a Comment