You must be living under a rock if you (if you’re American) do not know about the situation concerning Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Even if you’re not American, you should have heard by now of the NSA’s expansive programs collecting metadata on phone and internet communications all around the world.
This isn’t about big brother listening to our phone calls, that has a much smaller effect on our lives. I personally could care less.
At least they’re finally listening to me.
It’s the fact that the US government conducts itself as if it is a paranoid junkie, spying on its partner governments in the European Union, observing commercial interests in South America, collecting irrelevant data on its own citizens. The eye it maintains on the Middle East is at least justified…but where does it end? We have no insight as to what this junkie, high off its own piss (a golden shower of deceit) is gonna do next.
The court that handles the oversight of these “national security” programs operates behind a veil, a secret Ultra-Supreme Court. There is no accountability in the place where accountability matters most- our constitutional freedoms like the 4th Amendment, as well as our (expected) right to not be watched wherever we go.
And the worst part of it is, we wouldn’t have ANY information about any of these programs if it wasn’t for a college dropout computer whiz who skipped along a yellow brick road into the land of National Intelligence. Ya know, the guy with the glasses who turned down his 150k+ paycheck and vacations in Hawaii to expose the man behind the curtain. Now he’s on the run.
And this just isn’t about the NSA and FISA, this extends to the Military Industrial Complex, and the U.S. Military itself. Bradley Manning, a young private in the army in the unique position to have access to classified information, is on trial for “aiding the enemy” (carries a life sentence in a military prison), and was subjected to harsh cell conditions while waiting months for his court date…
Why? For exposing the chilling video of U.S. helicopter gunmen slaughtering unarmed civilians in the Middle East, as well as 2 Reuters journalists. For exposing data the military was suppressing concerning actual death tolls of civilians in the Middle East. Now he’s facing over 22 charges that would total about 149 years in MILITARY prison, and his fate is being decided in only a partially open military trial. Most evidence and some testimonies will not be made public, as it concerns “national security.”
I could go on and on about this, but I want to open it up to the HE community.
Here’s the article that spurned this post. It fleshes out a perspective which I do not hear from people I talk to about this, and it has got some sarcasm to make it entertaining. Read it if you like,
What is your opinion on secret government?
Is it okay with you for spying programs to be in place?
Is it okay with you that courts determining what is constitutional are separate from our government that’s accountable through checks and balances?
Should people who expose classified information with the intent to enlighten US citizens should be deemed traitors?
Thanks for posting this. I’ve found that my thoughts about this matter and about my country can be summed up in the following quote:
I’m not American so I may not understand this situation very well but do you think the recent revelations will lead to protests like those in the Middle East? If I understand you correctly the American government does not abide by the U.S. constitution? Is that really possible? Will the American people fight for their constitutional rights? Although the NSA would probably stop them during the planning process…
@cosmicd46, even if you’re not American, the NSA programs like PRISM and Boundless Informant still collect data around the world, and more revelations keep coming to light about spying on our allies and trade partners. The two articles I offered are a good start if you don’t know much. Also check out the Guardian because they almost have exclusive access to Snowden’s treasure trove.
“If I understand you correctly the American government does not abide by the U.S. constitution? Is that really possible?”
Well, that’s nothing I can say for sure. It’s a matter of debate whether or not these acts, as well as the recent attempts at gun control, are unconstitutional.
FISA, the secret court that oversees the NSA’s programs consists of unelected officials, it is a group hand-picked by the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, who is also not an “elected” official. It may not be the case that these are actually unconstitutional acts (they very much are in my opinion, but I’m not on the Supreme Court), the biggest atrocity here is that these things are not able to be openly discussed by citizens and elected officials because it is deemed “top secret”.
“Will the American people fight for their constitutional rights?”
That remains to be seen. I will.
Well I will not fight, but I will stand up for myself and the American people. There’s no need to fight because the government is here to work for us. Many of our citizens are misinformed, or incredibly biased, or just don’t care…and they give their power as citizens of a democracy away- that’s the problem I would like to address.
Which is why I’m posting this. People need to talk about this, and know that if a people stand united against an oppressing power, change can happen. The people just need to realize their power, and stand together against it.
Yeah, I’ve been following the story in the national news and honestly I don’t find the revelations very surprising. It’s more that I’m not very familiar with American politics and the US constitution.
“FISA, the secret court that oversees the NSA’s programs consists of unelected officials…There’s no need to fight because the government is here to work for us.”
Are the NSA and FISA government agencies? If so, since the government is involved in the lawmaking process aren’t the elected officials then accountable for what the said agencies do? (Hmm, this is where my lack of knowledge regarding American politics may make me useless in this discussion).
Regardless of the fine details of the Snowden and Manning cases, I think the type of surveillance these two have revealed is incredibly extreme. Too extreme. (I wonder how much software, computers and energy the NSA uses to store all of the data. Do they keep it indefinitely?) Does the American government not trust its citizens? Or its allies? Surely spying on them won’t accurately address any problems it sees. Ironically, possessing such information is supposed to empower America but I think it makes them seem frightened, threatened, paranoid? and thus relatively weak (to clarify I’m referring to the agencies in questions, not the citizens). Ugh, this all reminds me of the oppressive nature of organised religion.
“People need to talk about this, and know that if a people stand united against an oppressing power, change can happen. The people just need to realize their power, and stand together against it.”
I agree completely. I’d stand with you.
@gimmesomesalt, it is an interesting development on many levels. As non-american we in the european union follow this on the foot but I feel like the american people have closed eye on these subjects.
It is a paranoid junkie with to much power in it’s hands and I would really like to know what kind of data analyse they use, and how they practice it. I think it is a very shady business and miss use of almost demanded trust from the world these days.
As most of you people know, when you talk about paranoia you could aswell become paranoid and somewhere these agencies, policy makers are in a true psychoses of mistrusting everything.
I for one on the long run, think this will have consequences for the American people and there IT world of controlling the masses. It’s just a matter of time while things drip more down, a wise woman once told me, everything will come out eventually… I think we are seeing Olympus Fall one step a day…
@cosmicd46, well I could give you a lesson on our governmental process, but that’d take too long and there’s better information on the internet if you’re interested. Doubt you are haha.
What’s important here is that our people directly elect officials into Congress, a two-house system, and they are our lawmakers. They write bills and such which are voted on, so they pass through our checks and balances system through our 3 branches of government. That’s as far as our citizens really have any say in government.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights protect our freedoms, and in cases of violations of constitutional rights, they pass through circuit courts and sometimes get to the Supreme Court level, a group of judges who are nominated by the President and serve indefinite terms.
The judges of the court overseeing the National Security Agency and its spy programs, a branch of the Defense Department I guess you could say, are hand picked by ONE justice on the Supreme Court. So US citizens and our directly elected officials have almost NO say, no way to oversee any of this. Which is why most Americans had no idea until Snowden blew the whistle and released docs.
“Does the American government not trust its citizens? Or its allies?”
It would appear that certain groups and members of our government (let me stress, not all of our government) do not trust either. It is truly a paranoid state and reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, as cliche as that is.
However egregious all of this is, it can be stopped. We just need our educated citizens to use their goddamn constitutional rights and stand up. Democracy does work. It is not the government that is the problem, just like a gun that mows down a crowd of people is not the problem.
The problem is the people in control of it.
And the people that witness it, but allow it to happen, are almost as bad.
Just like in Egypt, just like Turkey, just like anywhere that a government oppresses.
@spiraltouch, “I feel like the american people have closed eye on these subjects.”
Too many, too many. Our useless media is to blame. I like how The Guardian has been breaking all the stories, a UK news source, about American policy while our dumb pundits on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. are all arguing nonsensical bull shit because they are all basically owned by the same companies.
“I think it is a very shady business and miss use of almost demanded trust from the world these days”
So true! And it makes ALL Americans look bad even though we have no control over what’s being done. Its infuriating honestly. When a country gets really pissed about it and attacks us, it will be us, the people who will pay the price.
“everything will come out eventually… I think we are seeing Olympus Fall one step a day…”
Think about how hard it is to watch this from the inside…and watch the people be passive. It wrenches my gut, but I do what I can to get people talking about it. Not much, but it’s something.
@gimmesomesalt, Surely the president and/or some members of Congress know what’s happening in the NSA. The president has at least a partial role to play in national security. Part of me feels that the government is not entirely innocent. I say this because Snowden is viewed negatively by US law, which is defined by Congress. Right now, that’s just my gut feeling. Spying on that scale is unnerving. Consider what else they might be doing.
Thanks for the brief explanation. US
politics is mentioned in the Irish news
often so it’s about time I finally learn
the ins and outs of American politics.
@cosmicd46, the president, his cabinet, and the corporations backing our government are included when I said “certain groups and members of our government (let me stress, not all of our government) do not trust [its citizens and its allies]”
There is a group of Congress, the Intelligence Committee, who also have insight into the programs. But that leaves hundreds of our elected officials out of the loop. Our checks and balances system put in by the Constitution is not allowed to do its job. The whole matter is deemed a top secret matter of “national security,” which is also why Snowden is being so viciously pursued.
If all of Congress had been aware, I feel that many would have raised hell in objection, particularly conservatives. That’s why there is a backlash from the revelations.
@gimmesomesalt, I see your frustration as with many Americans that feel the same or are in so over there paranoid selves they can’t answer normally – like that Alex Jones.
However- you must remain sceptic as well, governments, banks and especially NSA like companies think ahead much further then 2 or 3 years. They are smart strategic catalysts that maybe even calculated such reactions with a whole different goal in mind, they make possible outcomes based on real-time information as possible outcomes in 6 to 30 years, just steering people.. Finding out there goal and feasable position in 30 years should give a whole different view I think.
In a way the arrogance portrait by these governance and sub-companies are not the same as the people I think, other countries do understand it, but as you know your neighbours they have such a high “land of the free” mentality that it will take along time for the average joe to see what is going on, none the less “care about it”
@cosmicd46, very much agreed. I also noticed the two of you contributing here are not American, which is interesting to note. Much appreciated to you for your perspective on the matter, always good to have an outside view.
@spiraltouch, “you must remain sceptic as well, governments, banks and especially NSA like companies think ahead much further…smart strategic catalysts…calculated such reactions with a whole different goal in mind”
This is very true, I have a passion for writing so that is why I am ranting on the topic, I don’t believe for a second I myself know what’s best for our country.
However, regardless of the motives and the goal, it is the fact that the CITIZENS of this country are not allowed to be aware of such goals. Whatever maneuvering and planning is happening behind closed doors, it directly affects my own well-being and my own interests as well as my fellow Americans’.
Since this government is “for the people, by the people”…myself being one of “the people”, a taxpayer and fairly educated, I believe that I have a very strong claim to some say in my own future.
All I ask for in this matter is transparency and openness. Not an elitist framework being played out with my tax dollars, my future at stake, my family and nation’s well-being in the air…kept secret because it’s “for my own good”.
If it was a benevolent agenda, it would be publicized. In my opinion, at least, which probably does not even matter.
This issue is reminiscent of Christianity’s rise to glory. Learn from history. Stand up for what you believe in, not what a small elite group believes. Those in power ultimately want to control people and have them behave in an orderly manner. Yes, politicians represent sectors of society but in terms of political theory their main objective is power and order. And all of their decisions are likely to be influenced by personal preferences. Democracy isn’t perfect, it doesn’t accurately represent the average citizen. Sure, isn’t it difficult to even define the average citizen? You need to represent yourself. Every human being has the right to be and is naturally a unique individual and so naturally not everyone will fit neatly into a predetermined social structure. I say don’t let those in power built their own ’empire’ at the expense of their electorate/citizens.
By the way, I don’t intend to cause offence by referring to religion. I just see many similarities between it and this topic. Also, it sickens me to think of people with any form of power arrogantly abusing it and manipulating others.
I think part of the problem is Americans still believe in debate (one of the many effects, I think, of media conditioning). Like “there’s this situation, this is what i think of this, ¿how about you?” (at its most civilized). But so little of actually doing something. Meanwhile, the ones shitting on your citizen rights are very very busy.
And then: what to do? Take the govt by violence? No, as that would generate in turn more violence. I think it’s all about looking inwards and changing one’s mental habits away from herd mentality. Stop watching the mainstream media. Stop waiting for government to account for your well being. Stop trusting big corporations not to poison you. It’s all rigged.
Start making room for the willpower to resist fascism peacefully and use what little liberties you still have to cut yourself loose mentally, economically and chemically.
The way to stop all of this would be to stop “buying” into the “machine”. It will take the majority of the population in order for it to work. Stop Working…Stop Paying for Gas…Stop Paying Your Mortgage…Stop Paying on Your Car. Stop Paying on Every Bill You Have! If everyone does this, the system will collapse. We don’t like the system, but we are to blame because we continue to support it. It is taught in economics that the consumer sets the price. We are setting the price because we continue to accept and buy in. Most of us do not like the high price of gas, yet we continue to buy in. If all of us stopped buying gas and demanded either lower fuel prices or another energy source, it would happen. It would happen because the system is based on money. If we all didn’t purchase gas for one day, think of how much money the oil companies would lose. They would have no choice but to change in order to make money from the masses. This plan is bold, but it can be done. The hindrence is the fact that the majority of the population would rather get wasted at a sporting event instead of standing up with their fellow earthlings and taking a stand. This is all my opinion and idea of what can be done. I would love to hear other people’s plans as well. You never know what we might learn.