In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
MOX News provides video of Ellsberg talking to CNN on this topic, Daniel Ellsberg "I Think They Have Everything And That Is The Recipe For A TYRANNY In This Country!" 06/09/2013:
And it apparently isn't the headline writer who came up with the "United Stasi of America" phrase:
The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.Although I think if the police-state potential of this thing were fully activated, it would look less like the Stasi than the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. We have homegrown precedents for this.
Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people's privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous. ...
That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former "democratic republic" of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America. ...
Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA's surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans' and foreign citizens' privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we're trying to protect. [my emphasis]
Dan Ellsberg knows far more what he's talking about in these things than most of us do.
I'm not myself quite ready to take Snowden's explanation of his motivations at face value. Not that I've seen anything that makes me think otherwise. I'm just withholding judgment on that aspect.
Tags: domestic spying, daniel ellsberg, edward snowden, obama administration