|Edward Snowden, former information officer at the CIA and NSA, has revealed himself as the whistleblower in the recent revelations of the massive, authoritarian surveillance state in the USA.|
By this Snowden meant that the technical apparatus for complete repression of the American people would soon be in place to enable a leader to “flip a switch”, because of some alleged crisis, and “there will be nothing the people can do at that point.”
Snowden said his career in the intelligence community gradually awakened him to the fact that the people of the USA were completely unaware of the capabilities of the surveillance state, which yesterday Paul Krugman called the “authoritarian surveillance state”, and that he hoped to provide citizens with information that would enable them to decide if the loss of their rights to the extent they were suffering them was worth the claimed benefits of increased security.
Snowden described a situation at the NSA where intelligence analysts such as himself possess the authority (he did not specify legal authority) to spy on any individual, including the President of the United States. And Snowden pointed out that the purpose of the immense database of communications traffic of virtually all Americans is to proactively build an evidence archive that can be used against any citizen the US government may someday decide to target.
This unlimited, prospective and ongoing seizure and search of the entire communications and data stream, is specifically denied to the government under the spirit and the letter of the Fourth Amendment, a right which many legal experts believe has been all but rendered meaningless by the continued efforts on the part of American government officials to privilege the powers of state surveillance and prosecution to such an extent as to erase any balance against (or inconvenience from) individual civil liberties.
As Glenn Greenwald pointed out today, all efforts on the part of US citizens to bring this matter to a court where the judiciary could decide on the constitutionality of the surveillance programs, have been successfully thwarted by the US government, which has argued that, since all evidence of infringing the rights of US citizens by conducting the spy programs is classified, and therefore the victims cannot possibly know they are victims, no litigant possesses any standing to bring a suit against the government.
The courts have sided with the government in these matters, and have shirked their responsibility to determine for the people if what their government is doing is legal and constitutional.
Snowden said his greatest fear, beyond the possibility the CIA will assassinate him, is that:
“Nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”