Cross-posted from Mike Malloy
Today marks the one-year anniversary since Edward Snowden turned the tables on the US government and exposed the shifty machinations of our State Department and National Security apparatus to the Guardian, UK. Snowden's revelations confirmed the worst of what we suspected during the Bush Crime Family's reign of terror -- that average 'merican citizens were being watched like criminals, and vast amounts of data were being collected for unknown purposes.
Sure, there was the surprise foreign surveillances of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which are disturbing in their own right. In fact, Germany has now launched its own investigation into the alleged wire-tapping of her cellphone. That's embarrassing.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to the "Snowden Effect" is that it made the public painfully aware the Big Brother was, indeed, watching us -- always. And often listened to our phone calls and read our email, too. Some see Snowden as a traitor who betrayed his country, but doesn't that beg the question -- what, exactly, do our privacy rights protect?
The loudest anti-Snowden voices are usually the same knuckle-draggers who wave their assault-rifles in one hand and pocket-sized personal copies of the US Constitution in the other. Seems some Constitutional guarantees are more important than others. Don't we deserve to know when we are under surveillance, without probable cause?
Snowden will likely never return to the US -- why should he? There are no whistle-blower protections here and it's obvious our fearless leaders care not a whit about our personal freedoms and rights. So what has changed in the year since Snowden's shocking document-dump? Not much, sorry to say, as The Christian Science Monitor reports:
"It has been one year since the first public disclosure of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by Edward Snowden. He has said his aim was to start a debate over US government surveillance practices, and on that score, he succeeded spectacularly. Yet for all the debate, the only thing more striking than the changes that have resulted is how much has stayed the same.
"On the one hand, the country's surveillance policies have been subject to scrutiny and revision that would have been unimaginable one year ago. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, no doubt hoping to stay ahead of the stream of Mr. Snowden's disclosures, declassified and released thousands of pages of documents about intelligence programs.
"On the other hand, bulk collection -- the NSA program that has been most controversial among Americans and that has the weakest security justification -- continues. Last month, the House was poised to approve a bill, the "USA Freedom Act," which would have ended the practice. But in 11th-hour talks behind closed doors, intelligence officials prevailed on House leadership to introduce a loophole, allowing the government to choose the 'specific selection terms' it would use to identify records for intake."
With this typical (non)reaction from Congress, we cannot expect anything in terms of Congressional investigations or meaningful reforms. Just doubleplusungood more of the same.