A chronicle of the spectacular incompetence of those who purport to lead us
WASHINGTON - Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, revealed a government process of spying on citizens and organizations, not information about the subjects of cyber spying. If not illegal, it is a process that should be illegal. The real term for what Snowden did is whistleblowing: acting to serve the public by revealing important information kept secret by the government.
Snowden was indicted for his good work.
Last week we found out that President Obama has been lying about providing lethal assistance to the terrorist-infested Syrian rebels. The public has a right to an accurate version of United States foreign policy.
Obama and the in-the-know members of his administration and Congress were not indicted.
The Agonist's Don Henry Ford had the apt description of the government indictment of Snowden for serving the people by alerting them to invasive government behavior -- Treason.
Having said that, let's look at the origins of the morass that Snowden exposed.
Snoop Daddy ECHELON
Spying on citizens, governments, and others has been the goal of those in power throughout recorded history. Likely, it comes from guilt induced paranoia. You rule, you cheat and steal, and, as a result, you spy on as many citizens as possible to either improve your graft or prevent anyone from finding out the very naughty things you are doing.
The foundation for efficient mass spying on citizens began in 1947 with the establishment of the ECHELON program, a global listening network via available electronic media. The opportunities for electronic spying were too tempting for the rulers to resist. The English speaking nations started this program: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they created a worldwide network spying on phone, data, and other communications. The purpose was to share vital security information. But it became much more than that.
ECHELON morphed into a number of specific programs. These were well known prior to 2001. In addition to the core group of five, every nation in the European Union was fully aware of the perils of ECHELON and its successors no later than 2001 (see this 2001 report).
When you see German government officials behave as though this is a major shock, they're just acting. The European Parliament produced an extensive report on what Snowden released in 2001. The draft version of that report is very revealing.
World leaders should just tell the truth - We have contempt for you little people and we will do whatever we want to keep you down, including spying on you.