Technology and civil liberty experts knew PRISM was a very real possibility. I knew, and wrote about it last August. The National Security Agency (NSA) (star bad guy org. in the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State) has been collecting domestic Americans’ phone and Internet records since at least 2007. This activity is a clear violation of the American Constitution, and was overseen by Bush II, Obama, Al Franken, and other high level leaders who’ve betrayed the trust of Americans and broken the law.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg that the “[the] idea that a 29-year-old individual with so little experience” had access to the material Snowden did is “absolutely shocking.”
What’s shocking is Senator Collins, who is ignorant as sin. Seven years younger, and a year from a computer science degree, I had similar security clearance to Snowden (in Canada). Of course, I never saw the sort of gross violations of law observed by Snowden, and Canada at that time had an effective Commissioner designed to protect Canadians from secretive surveillance programs that ended up collecting intel from out-of-bounds citizens.
So what can you and I do? Give up Facebook and Skype? Don’t use a Verizon phone at either end of a conversation? Vote Republican? Vote Democrat? Vote Liberal? None of those options will protect you or enhance your life, so what can we do? The party system in the US, and Canada, is not protecting citizens from overbearing governments. The US surveillance state convinced supposed good-guys like Obama and Franken that the illegal spy scheme they inherited wasn’t worth exposing or even shutting down.
We first of all have to defend the people who leak evidence of crimes to responsible media like Glenn Greenwald who helped break this story into the international press.
People like Bradley Manning, and Ed Snowden are people who’ve done heroic things to uphold the highest laws of their country, while people more powerful than them try to use lesser laws to punish their actions.
The NSA has defended its domestic spy program by saying they only collected “metadata”, details of calls, but not the voice recordings of each call, for example.
Why did Snowden give up his comfortable life so that Americans could openly debate the real level of domestic spying in their country? He made a choice that Obama and Franken (and many others in government who were aware of the NSA’s PRISM crime) went the other way on a long time ago. The Republican and Democrat leaders who saw the crime and said nothing, gambled that their acceptance of PRISM would not be revealed publicly. Snowden cost them that bet, and they are out for revenge because of the major damage he’s helped reveal they inflicted on their own credibility.
No discussion of overbearing state monitoring would be complete without a few examples of why innocent people need to be worried. The RCMP has spied on people without just cause. Trapwire, and PRIME are two other reasons for Canadians to be concerned. It should concern you that >you’re probably in a police database, even though you’ve never been charged with a crime (certainly nothing more serious than a traffic ticket).
Obama is learning new ways to piss off allies with his Stasi-style PRISM program.
Mike Bray for this Matt Taibbi blog post. What’s the real headline?
“This whole thing, this [Manning] trial, it all comes down to one simple equation. If you can be punished for making public a crime, then the government doing the punishing is itself criminal.”