NSA, Greenwald, Snowden

by Chris Sturr | June 11, 2013

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(1) Watch the interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, by journalist (not mere “blogger,” NYT!) and filmmaker Laura Pointras, if you haven’t already:

Yves Smith’s remarks on why the interview is so powerful are spot on:

You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter. He’s on the nerdy side of attractive, sensible-sounding and relaxed, articulate, and able to deliver key points in a compact, mass market friendly manner. Sadly, who carriers the message matters a great deal to Americans, and Snowden has revealed himself to be credible and likeable. In other words, as Foreign Policy noted a couple of days ago, the PR battle is on, and Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian team have played this very well. The releasing of key pieces over a series of days has kept the story on a full boil, and having Snowden agree to the taping and releasing it towards the end was astute

(2) Greenwald on On Point:  Tom Ashbrook’s interview with Greenwald on yesterday’s episode of WBUR’s On Point is worth listening to:

Greenwald is so great on this. He’s been on the TV circuit too, I know from his Twitter feed–I assume he’s been equally withering in his responses to NSA/Obama apologists there. I love that he ridicules the idea that the apologists (including Obama himself!) are now saying that they “welcome debate” on this, while they simultaneously say that Snowden should be punished for breaking the law (I heard Mass. Dem. Senate candidate Ed Markey say both of these things on a WBUR interview this morning, alas). Here’s Greenwald, from the transcript:

Everybody loves to say, “We should have a healthy debate about this.” President Obama said, “I welcome the debate.” The problem, though, is that there hasn’t ever been a debate about these programs. And because it’s all shrouded in top secrecy and the government constantly either threatens to prosecute or actually prosecutes anyone who talks about it, there never can be a debate. So what we have is this completely hypocritical contradiction, which is everybody goes around saying, “Of course we should have a debate about our surveillance policies. We shouldn’t just let the government do it and have us not know about it and not be able to debate it.” And yet, at the same time, when somebody comes forward — like Mr. Snowden — and courageously does the only thing there is to do to make us know about it, to let us debate it, they start calling for their heads. “He’s a traitor. Put him in prison.” So it is impossible to have a debate about any of these issues, precisely because they’re being conducted completely in the dark.

(3) If You Were Reading D&S in March 2010:  You got some good background on the privatization, and massive expansion, of the national security state, including the role of Booz Allen Hamilton, where Edward Snowden worked, in Tom Barry’s feature article Synergy in Security: The Rise of the National Security Complex. From the introduction:

Since Sept. 11, 2001, a vastly broadened government-industry complex has emerged—one that brings together all aspects of national security. Several interrelated trends are responsible for its formation and explosive growth: 1) the dramatic growth in government outsourcing since the early 1990s, and particularly since the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, 2) the post-Sept. 11 focus on homeland security, 3) the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 4) the Bush-era surge in intelligence budget and intelligence contracts, and 5) the cross-agency focus on information and communications technology.

The term “military-industrial complex” no longer adequately describes the multi-headed monster that has emerged in our times. The industrial (that is, big business) part of the military-industrial complex has become ever more deeply integrated into government—no longer simply providing arms but also increasingly offering their services on the fronts of war and deep inside the halls of government—commissioned to carry out the very missions of the DoD, DHS, and intelligence agencies. In the national security complex, it is ever more difficult to determine what is private sector and what is public sector—and whose interests are being served.

The article is particularly good for understanding the revolving door between the private security contractors and government agencies, and for the shift toward computing and information. (I heard a segment on NPR this morning that touched on this, but their angle was that one of the problems with privatization and expansion of private national security companies is that it broadens the number of people who have access to state secrets, and thereby makes leaks by people like Snowden more likely.  Funny, I was thinking that was a rare silver lining to privatization!)

(4) Other links:

But is he still in Hong Kong?  Reports say that he checked out of a hotel there.

More on this soon.

–Chris Sturr

2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Pingback: Partisan Bias And NSA Surveillance | Alas, a Blog

  2. “but no big corporations are harmed by massive NSA-type surveillance”

    I think Google, Facebook and Twitter would disagree with that.

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