Can We Stop America's Surveillance State?
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: With the publication of Glenn Greenwald's new book on Edward Snowden and the NSA, the state surveillance issue is back in full force as if it ever went a way.
Purloined formerly top-secret NSA documents are now there for the downloading, even as the calls for truth and privacy buttressed by irrefutable information, has run up against the institutional armor of the surveillance state that has little respect for public opinion or calls for "reform."
Every day, there are new stories showing duplicity in high places and revealing the existence of new tracking technologies and forced and voluntary collusion between the secret agency and its many "partners" in the private sector. PBS Frontline is out with one more expose.
Just as the publication of the Pentagon Papers in l971 did not end the Vietnam War, the leaks from a world of questionable 'intelligence" has only made our Spymasters more determined.
There was four more years of carnage after Daniel Ellsberg dropped the hidden history of our intervention in Vietnam showing how officials knew the truth even as they fed the public a litany of lies to keep a profitable if murderous enterprise going.
The charade was finally ended by the Vietnamese liberation army 39 years ago this month, but the NSA and handsomely financed partners in the self-styled "Intelligence community" will go on and on until someone stops them, and their spying, and that someone is hard to identify given the way the agencies seem to have the goods on the government as well as the rest of us.
There is no American liberation army with the clout to shut them down.
I spoke with retired CIA veteran Ray McGovern for a TV series I am producing about how government spying intimidates people in government. He told me:
"Everybody is afraid. It's not just the journalists, it's people like Barack Obama, it's people like Diane Feinstein--think about what the NSA has on Diane Feinstein and her husband, who has made billions from Defense, and post office, and all kinds of nice cozy contracts, okay? This goes back to J. Edgar Hoover""
So far, all the noise and media condemnations have not led to meaningful reforms. or legal restraints on the NSA's electronic octopus. The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer writes in the Guardian about law suits against the NSA that were thrown out of Court:
"What's surprising -- even remarkable -- is what the government says on the way to its conclusion. It says, in essence, that the Constitution is utterly indifferent to the NSA's large-scale surveillance of Americans' international telephone calls and emails:
"The privacy rights of US persons in international communications are significantly diminished, if not completely eliminated , when those communications have been transmitted to or obtained from non-US persons located outside the United States.
That phrase -- "if not completely eliminated" -- is unusually revealing. Think of it as the Justice Department's twin to the NSA's "collect it all."
Leave it to the outspoken Chinese Artist Ai Wei Wei who has been spied on and jailed in China to recognize the similarities between pervasive Chinese surveillance and the US imitation of it. He writes: "Civilisation is built on that trust and everyone must fight to defend it, and to protect our vulnerable aspects -- our inner feelings, our families. We must not hand over our rights to other people. No state power should be given that kind of trust. Not China. Not the US."