Saturday, December 14, 2013

Insidious National Security Agency Surveillance

Edward Snowden's NSA/GCHQ spyware revelations have prompted the United Nations to question why American and British intelligence agencies have been universally data canvassing and caching world leaders'— legislative bodies'—corporate boards'— and citizens' private communications. 

Ben Emmerson, Q.C., the U.N.'s lead investigator, said that contrary to American and British government spinmeister accusations, publication of these top secret programs should not be considered treasonable offences because of the egregious nature of these total awareness enterprises.

American Commandment: Thy shall not disclose government business or safeguard whistleblowers

Mr. Snowden under U.S. warrant for violating the Espionage Act, has short-term Russian protection.  Other countries considering Snowden's sanctuary requests were promised U.S. economic sanctions. It is sobering to reflect on these actions and U.S. assurances that Mr. Snowden, if handed over, would not be tortured or executed. 

At the behest of U.S. officials, Japan will initiate prosecution and seek lengthy sentences for anyone who publicizes classified material. Sacrosanct topics under the 60 year nondisclosure time frame include: defense, diplomacy, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. As The Economist muses, Japan's proscriptive legislation would also likely include updates on Fukushima Daiichi radiation issues.  Prime Minister Abe said that his divisive secrecy law was passed to protect the public.

Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor and purveyor of NSA/GCHQ documents, is under pressure from some members of the House of Commons to cease and desist publication or face treason charges. One of Mr. Rusbridger's critics, Keith Vas, voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and against the proposed 2009 inquiry.

Snowden media liaisons, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, have experienced personal and family-related travel penalties for their reporting. Both Poitras and Greenwald have stated that they are wary of returning to the United States.

Americans should remember former-ambassador Joseph C. Wilson's July 2003 critique— What I Didn't Find in Africa —referencing his February 2002 fact-finding trip to Niger. According to Mr. Wilson there was no evidence to support British intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein had purchased yellowcake uranium. For his efforts, Mr. Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame were subjected to a government-sponsored  smear campaign.

U.S. and British rationales for the '03 Iraqi war—weapons of mass destruction—have been disproven. This confirmation leaves historians and others in a quandary. Do they blame the Bush administration, the intelligence apparatus or a combination of the two?

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems to provide the answer in his recent memoir "Known and Unknowns." Mr. Rumsfeld states that less than two weeks after 9/11 he convened with the president and thereafter wrote the following memorandum:
Interesting day— NSC mtg. with President— As [it] ended he asked to see me alone… After the meeting ended I went to Oval Office—He was alone He was at his desk— He talked about the meet Then he said I want you to develop a plan to invade Ir[aq]. Do it outside the normal channels. Do it creatively so we don’t have to take so much cover [?]
Mr. Rumsfeld's aggressive support for an illicit war should prompt condemnation and prosecution. Obeisance is not a reasonable defense. President Bush's Operation Iraqi Freedom has cost the lives of 4,486 U.S. personnel, several hundred thousand Iraqis and left the country and region in a maelstrom of violence.

It is unconscionable that many of the principals advocating for the 2003 Iraqi invasion, have the temerity to call Edward Snowden a traitor.

Looking Back to Prior Government Transgressions

Surveillance programs established by the Nixon administration were called a cancer on the body politic by Supreme Court Justices Marshall and Douglas in 1972. Their opinion was validated by the Church Committee in 1975.  From their dissent in the matter of Melvin Robert Laird, Secretary of Defense, et al. v. Tatum, et al. they said:
Those who already walk submissively will say there is no cause for alarm. But submissiveness is not our heritage. The First Amendment was designed to allow rebellion to remain as our heritage. The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people. The aim was to allow men to be free and independent and to assert their rights against government. There can be no influence more paralyzing of that objective than Army surveillance.
These caveats were preceded by President Eisenhower who warned in 1961 that if unrestrained, the military industrial puppeteers would dictate government policy.

Much like Hansel and Gretel we now are forced to follow pebbles and crumbs to discover the truth.

Recent Snowden Side Effects

Some NSA officials are contemplating amnesty for Mr. Snowden if he promises to stop leaking documents.

President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology is expected to challenge the NSA's status quo in their coming report.

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