Sunday, 4 August 2013

Snowden 2.0

The Snowden Affair is now part of our landscape, and the airport lounge aspect of the story is mercifully over. There has been much thoughtful and informed commentary on it, so I can only add one or two notions.

1. Hyper-partisanship is actually a good thing in this case. If the GOP/Tea Party wackos weren’t so obsessed with doing Obama damage to the point of indifference to the fate of the republic, they probably wouldn’t blink at the revelations of nonstop NSA snooping inside our emails and Internet searches given that they believe in the all-police, all-the-time style of governance. But since Obama is presiding over it, they’re agin’ it, and for once we stand to benefit.

2. Glenn Greenwald and his colleagues at The Guardian are handling the Snowden revelations masterfully. Unlike the Wikileaks approach of publishing thousands of documents and eventually losing control over them, Snowden recruited reporters to sift through the material and report on it, thereby sidestepping the more serious objections that they were endangering intelligence operations and/or methods.

At the same time, by not letting the U.S. government know everything that they know at once, Greenwald can tease out snooper dupes like Rep. Mike Rogers and get them to blurt tendentious spin that the next round of revelations promptly disproves. It is a wonderful display of counter-hubris given that the guys who used to hold a monopoly on the secrets and could say any damn thing now cannot do so. It must be quite uncomfortable for them to realize that now if they make up shit, someone can come along and prove them to be lying through their teeth. This completely alters the terms of the debate and empowers congress-critters who are serious about clipping the NSA’s wings.

3. Nothing much is likely to come of all the protestations and indignation although it has got to rankle at least a little bit that all these elected officials don’t know what the fuck is going on in the executive branch that they’re supposed to oversee. However, there is enough of a rebellion afoot that it is marginally possible some sort of pullback will be forced upon the spying apparatus. Given the technological capacity we now know it has, one could envision a way of registering the snooping process such that we could retrace exactly whose email/phone logs/ Internet searches were analyzed, to what end, when and by whom. Forcing the spies to leave a trail of their actions might be one way put a dent in their scarily vast powers.

4. It is particularly revealing of the paper-thin liberalism of our New York Democrats like oily Chuck Schumer who is now jumping up and down like a fat brat deprived of his video games over Snowden and his Russian protectors. Schumer was always on the side of power, and his occasional progressive sheen is mere convenience. (It’s no accident that Anthony Weiner started out life as one of his staffers.) Count on Schumer to support Israel, the cops and the CIA under all circumstances. Gay marriage gets thrown in for good measure, but don’t be fooled.

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