Lesson of the Snowden Revelations: You're the Target!
If Edward Snowden's goal in blowing his whistle was to spark a public debate about privacy and surveillance, he has marvelously succeeded.
Everybody's talking about Snowden, his revelations and their significance. The talk, predictably, is contentious and divided. But government officials and their subservients in the mainstream media aren't participating in a debate; they are attempting to avoid one. The amount of distracting, disingenuous and disinformative noise sparked by this story would drown out any serious debate.
Government officials and press pundits have already convicted young Snowden of treason because he's "aided the enemy" by damaging our surveillance capability. Some confused (and perhaps frightened) "opinion givers" have walked a thin (and not very straight) line by supporting his whistling on U.S. surveillance but sharply, and nonsensically, denouncing his "revelations" on U.S. spying on China. A chorus of bloggers, talk show guests and pundits routintely toss up nasty, personal insults about Snowden's education, girlfriend, sexuality and courage.
It's all nonsense. The Chinese have been accusing the U.S. of spying on them for a long time, citing very specific evidence, so Snowden hasn't revealed anything to them. As for the "wrecking our protections" argument: given the scope of this data capturing, any person looking to commit a crime knows his or her communications are going to be intercepted. The revelation is that the United States is capturing all the data on the Internet. What are terrorists going to do once they read that? Stop using the Internet?
In supporting this illogical contention, Obama reps are claiming PRISM has been effective in preventing terrorism but nobody can say how. In a Monday night interview, the President told Charlie Rose: "...you've got a guy like Najibullah Zazi, who was driving cross-country trying to blow up a New York subway system…." This is one of the main arguments being used to defend the NSA but it's totally bogus. As the Associated Press reported Zazi, now a convicted terrorist, was discovered when British intelligence seized his computer and found an email that revealed his plot. That's why the President was careful not to directly state that there was a connection. "In using Zazi to defend the surveillance program," AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman wrote, "government officials have further confused things by misstating key details about the plot." From President Obama's carefully worded statement, it's clear he's very conscious of the confusion he's creating; it's his plan.
But why? What is the purpose of this forged confusion? It's to hide the most important truth: we, the people of the United States, are the real target of this surveillance and the surveillance is part of a long-term strategy of control.