Edward Snowden: It’s Not About the Phones.
Somewhere in the lower bowels of the intelligence agencies in one of those windowless, florescent lit rooms, human-less and puritan, cleansed of all sense of meaning and so of conscience, an eye strained group of analysts are studiously penetrating a dossier on Edward Snowden, which, in all likelihood, contains every detail of the young man’s life, and are adding details about how it may end.
A retraction is now necessary: this circumstance is not a possibility; rather than a likelihood, it is a certainty.
Snowden didn’t reveal anything novel. Intelligence communities are foul institutions. Their conceptions are never divine or glamorous; their work is dirty and their fortunes minimal. Having defeated the most tyrannous regime ever to slither and disperse its slime across the human landscape, the United States absorbed into the war time intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services, thousands of former Nazis and gave shape to the nascent Central Intelligence Agency. Other organizations did the same, a moral carelessness that allowed, under the auspices of Operation Paperclip, committed Nazi Wernher von braun, who developed the V1 and 2 rockets that rained death upon Londoners with the aid of Jewish slave labor, to become crowned by NASA as “the greatest Rocket Scientist of all time, ” an honor conferred upon him after he developed the Saturn V which sent our astronauts to the moon.
Fecal matter tends to condense, and so Nazis could become CIA officers and desk analysts in the war against the KGB, another highly odorous body of human excrement. The CIA passes its crap up and out, to the State Departments desk officers and then to the State Department’s spokesman, then to the press and then to the public, where, at this stage, the sewage treatment process has sufficiently distilled the excrement to make it potable for an under-educated swarm of journalists and other informational tributaries which dump the waste on an unsuspecting public who are still certain that their drinking water is clean.
Though an object of greater public knowledge, Edward Snowden has been reserved a seat at the table of those individuals whose souls are easily agitated. Psychologists and other social organizers call these people unstable. They are subject to a wide range of scrutiny because they have a tendency to squirm when everyone else is rigid. Seated on either flank of Snowden are two individuals who have received little press coverage and whose names never made it to the headlines and never will: George Kenny and Lt. Colonel John Sray, U.S. Army.
Snowden revealed the methods of the intelligence gathering of which we all were tacitly aware. It has been known for some time that the NSA has the capability to spy and snoop, peering its jaundice eye, upon anyone they wish, a circumstance which should cause those progenitors and advocates of futurism and the technology it brings a moment of silence if not shame — was the moon landing really all that awesome when we know that the man who designed the rocket once enslaved Jews? In the contest between the moon and Justice, Justice should win, but it never will.
However, intelligence agencies don’t make the policies which produce them. Politicians and social scientists do, as is evidenced by the life of George Kenny.
George Kenny was the senior State Department desk officer for Yugoslavia in the late 1980’s into the mid-nineties when, in submission to the same agitated conscience as Snowden possess, he resigned in protest over the Clinton administration’s policy in the Balkans. Kenny daily received intelligence briefings from the CIA analysts about the situation in the fragile country. The analysts were concerned that U.S. recognition of the breakaway states, Slovenia, Croatia, and especially Bosnia, would cause, as he said, the region “to explode.” Policy was never written by the analysts though; the politicians did that. Clinton’s ambassador to Bosnia had promised the Muslims of Bosnia a Muslim state and that was what they were going to get, no matter the cost in lives, Croatia was to be ethnically pure and its constitution said so, and Serbia was going to be blamed for everything.
The narrative was established and now it needed to be implemented. As it was implemented, the people charged with implementing it became aware of its filthy nature. Lt Col Sray, in absolute disenchanted disgust, authored an article in 1995, at the height of the conflict, entitled “Selling the Bosnian Myth to America: Buyer Beware” in the Foreign Military Studies Office Publications, a journal funded by the Department of the Army. In the article, Sray dissected the myths that had, though feebly and at the cajoling of soulless idiots like Christiana Amanpour, taken root in the greenhouses of the pack journalist, safely ensconced in Sarajevo hotels, and that were about to come to fruition and the sowed in vociferous calls to bomb Bosnian Serb positions. The voices were shrill and high pitched. The Serbs had to pay. When NATO did finally bomb, one observer reported that otherwise stout and expressionless journalists sipping coffee on the balcony of their fine hotel, madly scribbling lie after lie, sprang into cheer and clapped and applauded.
That the U.S. government was taking its orders from a carefully crafted journalistic bias and refusing to look at the contradictory reports of the Intelligence analysts and many of the U.N. commanders was enough for Kenny to resign and Lt. Colonel Sray to write. That the U.S. government spies on its citizens was enough for Snowden to go public and destroy his career and possibly risk his life. But as Snowden acknowledged in his interview, a government that has usurped its role and created a structure of oppressive and intrusive policies is not the most distressing aspect of this set of circumstances. It is the public’s complacency and apathy that bothers him most.
Ten years from now, some may remember Snowden and what he said, some may remember Snowden — he had caused a great stir and Jay Leno may have made a joke about him — some may have allowed him to slip, and a significant and disturbing majority of our polity will never hear of him at all. We will be outrage for a few weeks. People like me will write articles, and pundits and dimwits will make millions making stupid assumptions and conjectures, but the wire taps will still click in your ear, and the system will have been improved. We are a culture that cheers when we bomb the wrong people, cries when we bomb the right people, forgets a George Kenny as soon as he is met, makes life comfortable, but protests in massive displays of collective envy and jealousy against Bank bailouts and the rich, and will undoubtedly let Snowden, Kenny, and Sray pass into oblivion. There are still clicks on the line, but that’s okay because we bombed the Serbs.
Intelligence agencies follow orders. The general order is to acquire as much information as is possible by the most efficient means. According to Snowdens interview, the most efficient means of catching the bad guys is to keep tabs on the good guys too. But to the politicians and policy makers, there are no good guys or bad guys, just numbers and slogans and control triggers. We will fight terrorism by “winning hearts and minds” but we are still going to check on who your grandmother is calling. Saudis have free reign over our skies and are allowed privileged movement within our airspace, but the disabled child will still be subject to humiliating airport screenings. This is not just a problem within a certain three letter agency, it is general social problem.
The over reaching of our intelligence services is a symptomatic result of the fact that to identify a potential enemy based on anything other than what they say is profiling and probably horribly racist. And even if they say they hate America, Americans and the west, they are just third world disgruntles who have no coherent system of belief but are primitive and “poetically” releasing their anger by screaming Allah Hu Akbar and quoting the Verse of the Sword while decapitating British Soldiers and causing instances of workplace violence on U.S. military bases. To remedy this, we should bring them to the United States and give them food stamps, stipends, and scholarships, like we did the Tsarnaevs, and then they can blow up the Boston Marathon. In every instance we will assume the best of the enemy and the worst of ourselves. This is a general societal disposition which creates and nurtures the idea of having a massive overseeing structure that scrutinizes everything we do. The only way to avoid excessive surveillance is to identify the enemy or stop pretending to fight him. We have already, unfortunately, chosen.