Monday, June 24, 2013

Swiping at a criminal regime

As the brilliant article by Glenn Greenwald explains, there is a vast difference between the actions of Edward Snowden and the U.S. government.  Snowden has revealed on-going criminal activity by the U.S. government that has shielded itself from legal prosecution by passing unconstitutional laws allowing such activity.  Snowden knew this and decided it was such a terrible wrong that he had to expose it to the public, knowing that the penalty for doing so would be severe.  As others have noted, Snowden's leaked documents are hardly revelations to other governments, journalists, or people who pay attention to the news.  But for most people it was news, shocking news, to learn that everything they tell others digitally also gets told to the NSA. 
The "enemy" they're seeking to keep ignorant with selective and excessive leak prosecutions are not The Terrorists or The Chinese Communists. It's the American people.

The Terrorists already knew, and have long known, that the US government is doing everything possible to surveil their telephonic and internet communications. The Chinese have long known, and have repeatedly said, that the US is hacking into both their governmental and civilian systems (just as the Chinese are doing to the US). The Russians have long known that the US and UK try to intercept the conversations of their leaders just as the Russians do to the US and the UK.

They haven't learned anything from these disclosures that they didn't already well know. The people who have learned things they didn't already know are American citizens who have no connection to terrorism or foreign intelligence, as well as hundreds of millions of citizens around the world about whom the same is true. What they have learned is that the vast bulk of this surveillance apparatus is directed not at the Chinese or Russian governments or the Terrorists, but at them.

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