They can’t make it stop. No matter how many times they play the victim, no matter how many times they scream “traitor” or “national security”, no matter how many times they claim to be misunderstood, they can’t make it stop.
And the world keeps getting madder and madder and madder.
For nearly five months now, The Obama Administration has tried to reassure an increasingly pissed off planet that its supremely powerful secret surveillance programs are only used for “counter-terrorism purposes”. “No one’s reading your emails or listening to your phone calls,” The President has said.
But with the sheer volume of emails and phone calls the National Security Agency has been silently collecting globally since 9/11, how could they resist the temptation not to? It’s like putting a mountain of cocaine in front of an addict. The lure of the high is just too strong.
And now we are all too aware of it, thanks to the courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden. His leaking of thousands of pages of secret NSA documents have been the focus of countless media reports on the breathtaking scope of American international spying.
And there is still more to come. The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and former Guardian reporter/columnist Glenn Greenwald are each writing books that will surface next year. In the meantime, more bombshell revelations are expected before the end of this year.
Just how out of control has the NSA been? Instead of strictly focusing on “terrorist threats”, they’ve also been privately spying on commercial businesses in Brazil and France, dozens of foreign embassies, dozens of foreign leaders, the United Nations, news media outlets like The Associated Press & Al Jazeera, and practically anyone else who uses a telephone and a computer.
Incredibly, defenders of the NSA continue to argue that all of this excessive spying makes America safer. Really? Did the Hoovering of everyone’s information stop Benghazi last year? What about this year’s bomb attack during the Boston Marathon? How about the recent Navy Yard massacre?
Furthermore, these same stubborn fools claim that all nations do what they do. They spy on each other in secret to stay ahead of the game. So, Europe eavesdrops on President Obama’s phone calls just like the NSA eavesdrops on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s electronic yakfests? All other countries spy on everybody else’s phone and internet communications? Nice try. (Even if these comparisons were true (and yes, other countries do spy on their own citizens and some other nations), how does that ever make America’s actions acceptable?)
Speaking of Merkel, one report out of the German media notes that Obama not only knew of the spying on her treasured cell phone as far back as 2010 (he told her the opposite when she called him about it) he also approved its continuation. The NSA is denying this but can they actually be believed on anything anymore? They falsely claimed there wasn’t a mass surveillance state in the first place!
And what about Obama himself? Has anything he has said since June when these damning stories first started surfacing convinced anyone that he’s above the actions of his own spying partners? Is it really possible he had absolutely no idea any of this nonsense was going on or that he didn’t give his full-throated approval? Come on.
Back in August during a rare East Room White House press conference, he claimed, “…a general impression has, I think, taken hold, not only among the American public but also around the world, that somehow we’re out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody and doing what we please with it. Now, that’s not the case. Our laws specifically prohibit us from surveilling U.S. persons without a warrant. And there are whole range of safeguards that have been put in place to make sure that that basic principle is abided by.”
Well, if there are “safeguards” in place, they’re not working. The NSA is “out there willy-nilly sucking in information on everybody and doing” whatever they “please with it.”. (Why do you think they need all those secret data centers for storage?) Considering what we know now, how can the most powerful man in the world possibly deny that?
And how can he possibly distance himself from this growing scandal that threatens to completely derail his second term? The answer is he can’t. Obama owns this scandal. He’s consistently defended the NSA’s actions while condemning Snowden’s dissent, he’s played down the significance of the revelations that continue to get worse and worse, and he has shown no real change of heart regarding his deep and abiding love for secret surveillance in general. Don’t be fooled by his supposed calls for “review” and “transparency”. It’s all smoke and mirrors to maintain the status quo.
But the status quo is marked for extinction. And so is his presidency.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, October 28, 2013