Summary: Eleven weeks have passed since the first revelations by Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Let’s total up the results. Spoiler for the post: the NSA is winning, we’re losing. But there are some potentially significant effects in other nations.
What’s been the effect of the revelations by Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance programs, which has in turn sparked other revelations?
(1) Column-miles of newsprint and countless hours of broadcast time spent discussing these matters. Entertainment for nerds and political junkies. Success for the news media!
(2) Column miles of newsprint and countless hours of blather by the government’s courtiers mocking Snowden (e.g., Michael Cohen, Steven Metz) and justifying the government’s actions (e.g., Joshua Foust, Tim Stanley). Entertainment for nerds and political junkies. Success: careers boosted in DC!
(3) Politicians giving bold speeches. Success: more exposure, name-recognition!
(4) Effect on the NSA so far: nil. They continue to expand their reach; reforms are defeated or meaningless. In fact, defeating their opponents might make them bolder. This revelation of their strength only boosts their fearsome reputation among US citizens (and tells our foes little they did not already know or suspect).
- “Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys“, CNET, 24 July 2013 — “Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn’t stopped the US government from trying.”
- “Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords“, CNET, 25 July 2013 — “Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form.”
- Pretend reforms: Who will be on the new Committee to review NSA programs? A former CIA Director, a former Homeland Security “Czar”, a White House official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and an advocate of secret infiltration of citizen groups to increase citizens’ faith in government officials. Its a bad joke. Sources: ABC News and Marcy Wheeler.
- “Three Illusory “Investigations” of the NSA Spying Are Unable to Succeed“, Electronic Freedom Foundation (“Defending Your Rights in the Digital World”), 23 August 2013
(5) But, there is possible serious damage to exports of US technology (there is a price paid for every win):
- US Tech Companies Raked Over The Coals In China, Wolf Richter, Testosterone Pit, 21 August 2013
- German Government Warns Key Entities Not To Use Windows 8 – Links The NSA, Wolf Richter, Testosterone Pit, 21 August 2013
There is an air of jubilation in many reports about these events. Perhaps these folks believe that now the American people will see, and decide to act. So far that hope has proven vain, just as in all the previous big stories about the government’s growing power, and the stories about its misuse of that power. People’s outrage means nothing unless it sparks action.
Perhaps some on the Left believe that now the Czar knows what the Cossacks do, and will make reforms! Unfortunately that’s the dream of peasants. The Tsar always knows in general what deeds are done by his Cossacks, and approves of them.
When this story broke my prediction was that this was just another small bump on the road for the growing Security State, and there would be no substantial reforms. Worse, perhaps these revelations were just breaking us to the reins:
This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents — the government. Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 — but to limit our activities. Limit our ability to manage our own affairs.
The changes come slowly. Not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to the domination by the will of another. Surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.
It’s too soon to post this prediction as a win, but it looks good so far.
We’re entering (or already on) the steep section of the slippery slope “S” curve. Each defeat, each blown opportunity for action, makes us weaker. Our cohesion and morale weaken; while the government and its legion of supporters grow stronger and more confident.
What will make the American people unhappy enough to take action? Our ruling elites probably give this much thought. Their slow tightening of the bonds appears well-calibrated. Day by day a New America arises on the ashes of the America-that-once-was.
For More Information
Posts about Edward Snowden:
- The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!, 7 June 2013
- The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
- America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013 — About civil disobedience
- Will a wave of leakers undercut America’s national security?, 8 July 2013
- The government strikes again, but finds yet another American willing to fight. Applause is not enough!, 9 August 2013
- “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”, 21 August 2013
Posts about what we can do – the most requested subject on the FM website:
- The project to reform America: a matter for science or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
- Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
- The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
- Important: Should we despair, giving up on America?, 5 May 2012
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012
- A third try: The First Step to reforming America, 28 May 2013
- The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy, 27 June 2013
- Why the 1% is winning, and we are not, 26 July 2013
- The second step to reforming America, 14 August 2013
Somewhere in our future lies the Third Republic