“Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorized disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.” – Daniel Ellsberg (Wiki: Daniel Ellsberg (born April 7, 1931) is a former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. He is also known for a fundamental contribution to decision theory, the Ellsberg paradox.)
I actually read the whole thing, and I’m very easily distracted.
Here’s a good part:
“I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.
He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning’s conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)”
I’m not too worried about the spying on the internet and cell phone stuff because, basically, I have always imagined that everything I put on any computer ever–whether it is on a cell phone, public computer, my laptop, cash register, police report, credit card or any other kind of bill, school registration, employment applications, tax forms, emails–whether I do it deliberately, or it is incidental to someone else’s publications, or it simply happens without me knowing at all–it is available to anyone who can manipulate the technology in such a way that they can access that information. I assume the government has people who will do that for money and/or country. I assume corporations have people who will do it for money and because fuck you. And I am also sure that a lot of random and bored teenagers can do it. Just for fun. I’ve known this since I saw the movie Wargames, with Matthew Broderick, in which a teenaged hacker nearly starts a nuclear war, but ends up teaching us all a good lesson about playing games for which there are no winning moves.
I don’t doubt there is a “Big Brother” out there, but that dude is a punk. He’s a huge baby. What power do “they” have over us because they can see what we are doing? Especially if “they” (the government) ARE “us,” (the people) as they are supposed to be? I think there is a big brother, but we’re all grown up now, and he can’t wedgie us anymore. In fact, we are stronger than him and can kick his ass and have been wanting to for some time now.
And anyway–I’m sorry this metaphor is so elastic, but the simple fact is that LITTLE Sister and Brother are watching the fuck out of THEM. Big Brother AND the scummy Corporations, which I guess might be our absent Father, who lives in France, now, with his newest young mistress, and sometimes remembers to send us late birthday cards with 20’s in them. Little Bro and Sis are watching them. And they WILL tell Mom.
I think I could probably keep going with this family thing, but it’s too easy to be mean, so I’ll stop. Point is, WE are watching them. We can, and we do and we must. So I’m not too worried about the NSA. I am worried about the secrecy and the notion that people should be punished for revealing to the public information that is useful and hidden. I’m worried about Bradley Manning. I feel that we have already done him very wrong. I think history may view him as a hero and a martyr–even if we let him go, now. I’m not sure who will be him in the movie, but Morgan Freeman will definitely be the narrator. I think history will look at all of our wars and intrigues and invasions as disgusting and barbaric mistakes–and Captain Jean Luc Picard is the narrator of that story.
Snowden may get a movie, too, probably, starring Shia LaBeouf.
I appreciate both Manning and Snowden for doing what they thought was right despite the consequences they knew they would face. I think because of them, others may be inspired to do the same, and eventually we can be done once and for all with our current notion of secrecy, which seems so quaint that it’s almost ceremonial. It’s like a type of politeness. Everybody knows. Everybody knows that everybody knows. We must not say so. We all know that our politicians are working in the interests of greedy rich men at the expense of everyone else, but we don’t talk about it. We know that the economic system we’ve developed is vicious, destructive, and dependent upon various forms of slavery, but it’s embarrassing to talk about it, especially since we are ALL culpable. Every one of us. So it’s worse than criticizing your drunk and racist great aunt at thanksgiving dinner. It’s like pointing out to everyone at the table that every bite they take is full of other people’s suffering–men, women and children. Not polite. Not on thanksgiving, when we’re celebrating the anniversary of European Settler and Native American Friendship day.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned with what the NSA does, but I’m not sure it’s useful to make a big deal out of the information it has access to. Just like I’m not sure it’s useful to make a big deal out of drones and other things that sound really scary but are simply extensions of the tools we ALL now have access to. I think the most urgent concern in light of these new technologies–and all the even greater and more frightening ones that are around the corner–is how we respond to the information that we have access to. How we sort it, and how we use it.
So, for instance, if your local sheriff who has pulled you over can do a quick uber-google using the terms associated with the drug trade and the name on your driver’s license, he may find probable cause to search your vehicle in a tweet you made, quoting lyrics to a Ben Harper song.
And, while we’re on the subject, in OK I think he soon might be able to actually test your blood to see if you did, in fact, burn one down tonight–or on any night this week. And then you will go to jail. I would see that as a problem. But I think we can start backward from the part where you can go to jail for following the sage advice of Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, etc. Let’s not monitor and punish people for any of the things they ingest. I think that would be best. So–no jail, no blood test, no uber-google for drugs/yourname. This is but one example of a change that is going to have to come now that our private conversations are recorded and collected.
I have signed the petition written by Daniel Ellsberg because I do beleive we need a body to oversee the overseers. I just think we should focus on the things we can control. I don’t think we can have the internet and use it in the way that we do while ensuring protection for the privacy of the information we store there. We have to learn to live in this world. And governments have to live in this world, too. We will have transparency. Imagine governing a nation that can easily watch your every move? A world full of hackers operating in the interest of governments, money, activists, and their own weird whims might be a new paradigm for intelligence agencies. I don’t think information is going to be one of those commodities for which we can create false scarcities. I think we can all handle the truth, and I think the truth will set us free.
- Ellsberg: Snowden Made Right Decision by Leaving America (truthdig.com)
- Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S. (washingtonpost.com)
- ‘Embarrassing’ holes as US govt rests case against Bradley Manning (intrepidreport.com)
- Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story (rinf.com)