"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."That is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights: a list of rights guaranteed to all Americans by the founders of our great nation, through our Constitution. It could not be clearer: leave our papers and effects alone unless you can show probable cause to go after them-- and then provide a sworn oath and a description of what is to be seized. I can give you the description of what the government is seizing: all communications that travel electronically. Everyone's. No probable cause, no oath, no affirmation, no description of specific items. Snowden (and others) claim the government can wiretap--listen in on--the contents of all phone calls, not just look at the numbers you called. Electronic storage is cheap. Did you get a look at the data center being built in Utah to handle the mountains of info being collected by NSA on us all?
According to Utah TV station KSL:
... The secrecy surrounding the project has led to speculation it will become a vast storehouse of personal communications of average Americans.
The facility is 1 million square feet of space, with a price tag well above $1 billion; and it will have an appetite for electricity that would embarrass Godzilla. Computers and cooling systems at the NSA's Utah Data Center will reportedly consume $40 million worth of power each year. The power company won't say if that widely reported estimate is valid...Our Constitution and our guaranteed freedoms have been shredded by our federal elected leaders, although the President and every member of Congress has sworn to uphold them. What a terrible joke it is.
Adding insult to injury, the same elected leaders are now stirring up a witches brew to destroy Edward Snowden, who had the temerity to inform us of the crime our government is committing against us. How dare he, they seem to be saying.
He calls our attention to a serious transgression, committed against us and against our Constitution, and the Boehners and Feinsteins of the world call him a traitor. Can someone give them a mirror?
In a victory for sanity, a Reuters poll this week shows that more Americans see Snowden as a patriot than a traitor.
The Daily Beast provides the flip side of the Boehner/Feinstein/WaPo coin. Though many in the mainstream media have echoed Feinstein and Boehner's claims that Snowden is a criminal, the Philadelphia Inquirer editorialized nicely with a very clear discussion of the issues, the responsibilities of Congress, privacy and secrecy.
Danny Schecter at Common Dreams puts the story in perspective vis a vis alleged Chinese cyber hacking and Obama-Xi Jinping's summit at which such matters were being discussed. Now it turns out we were doing the same cyber hacking that we accused China of doing.
With Snowden now seemingly on the run - in Hong Kong or elsewhere - the US press has piled on for a rabbit hunt, featuring article after article quoting officials on why he is a traitor. There is a snotty elitism to the putdowns citing his unimpressive educational background.
Snowden quickly became the media focus - if only because, once again, an individual's transgression is sexier to cover than an analysis of the institutional leviathan behind the chase...
We also learned most of the big internet brands played along, without disclosing anything, silenced by secrecy or being complicit due to a simple desire to stay on Washington's good side. Only Google seems to be fighting back, but after the fact. So much for all the sanctimonious privacy codes they all promote.
Clearly that old military-industrial complex, first condemned by President Eisenhower in 1960, now has expanded into a far larger behemoth, incorporating digital media, co-opting the internet, integrating the intelligence community, winning over Congress and the press, and giving the president even more power to launch cyber-wars and to target whomever he wants.
Colleen Rowley, the former FBI agent who made the cover of TIME Magazine for her 9/11 whistle-blowing revealed that this was another Obama-sanctioned initiative with deep roots in Cheney-Bush paranoia.
"The recent disclosures… should make us realise that John Poindexter's plan for 'Total Information Awareness' never died: It merely went underground and changed its name...
Alongside the escalation of surveillance and spying, the administration built its own paramilitary capacity and action army - reportedly run from the White House. Writer Fred Branfman who exposed Vietnam-era secret bombing, links all of this to:
More whistle-blowers and journalists have reportedly been prosecuted under Obama than during the Bush-Cheney years, and, Branfman says, US executive branch agencies have "increased paramilitary training and equipment, and created secret police spying operations in thousands of states and cities around the nation".
He also cites earlier reporting in the Washington Post by Priest and Arkin, who revealed that the executive branch had created "a jaw-dropping 1,074 federal government organisations, and nearly two thousand private companies involved with programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, in at least 17,000 locations across the United States - all top secret".
In short, this incident is an outgrowth of an industry with high-paying jobs while the nation's economic growth remains static. The only stimulus is for the spooks.
This scandal should be a perfect "news peg" to help us connect the dots between what is being exposed today and how it relates to what we should have known, if we had been paying attention to earlier piecemeal disclosures...