Friday, June 28, 2013
“Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.”
Yes. Well. Isn't that the truth.
Young Ezra sort of let the cat out of the bag the other day with his joking headline, "Does Edward Snowden Even Exist?"
So far as we know, Young Snowden has still not been seen in Moscow by any verifiable witness, nor, so far as I'm able to suss out from the numerous disordered and disorienting reports, was he actually seen on the flight from Hong Kong by other passengers. He has not been in communication with the media, either. As Bad Ezra has suggested, Snowden may not exist at all (of course he says he's joking, ha ha, but after a while, the absence of the major player in this drama does become the central fact of the story... "Waiting for Godot" anyone?)
There has been speculation that Greenwald and the Guardian have been had, on the premise that somehow they are too naive to realize when The Powers That Be are pulling a fast one for their own nefarious purposes. What those purposes are, we are not to know, at least not now, though there's a good deal of nasty business on tap, and having some kind of Big Terrible Sharks-in-the-Water Summertime "News" Distraction -- like the NSA IS SPYING ON EVERYONE!!!!1 -- is tailor-made for the summer news hole.
Who this Snowden actually is -- and who or what he's serving -- has become fodder for the Conspiracy Community such as we haven't seen for quite a long time, and the revelation of what are purported to be Snowden's chat logs from a few years back, though still largely under the media radar, give a remarkably different picture of the man than he has been presenting to the world since his Big Reveal and his subsequent disappearance. Instead of a principled whistle blower, ever speaking Truth to Power, we see a Libertarian asshole fully wrapped up in and defending the National Security/Surveillance State.
These are not contradictory positions, by the way. Libertarians tend to be highly protective of (their) power and privilege. A primary way to maintain it is through a very strong security and surveillance state. Neither Glenn nor Snowden have suggested undoing the Security/Surveillance apparat in any case. All they want, they've said, is The Debate. But time was, Younger Snowden had no need to "debate" it. He wanted summary punishment for leakers. Shooting in the balls. That sort of thing.
The Conspiracy Community has come up with all sorts of elaborate explanations of this Snowden fellow's actions, most of which revolve around him continuing to serve the security/surveillance state undercover. In other words, he is still an agent, still on duty, still serving the state, though appearing to be a rebel on the lam. Webster Tarpley suggested the whole thing is a "limited hangout" to help enable... or prevent... what?
The revelations have certainly shaken up official complacency about domestic surveillance and have exposed all kinds of lying by public officials in the United States and around the world. Generally speaking, officials don't like that, and in the United States some of the embarrassment has been acute. The scurrying among them, particularly by Feinstein and Clapper, has been provocative but not particularly illuminating.
Note who isn't scurrying, however. Um. That would include the White House.
There's a clue to where the factional lines are drawn, and at least in outline, we should be able to tell who the factional players are. And with a moment's reflection, we should be able to figure out what the point of all this hullabaloo is.
As many have already noted, none of this is actually doing any damage to the Security/Surveillance Apparat. What it's doing is introducing pervasiveness of surveillance to the public in as dramatic a vehicle as possible, pointing out that there is no escape from it, and focusing the mind's eye on submission to it. Outrage may be widespread but it is futile -- at least for the rabble.
Certain categories of people and institutions, however, are loudly claiming an exemption from blanket surveillance. That would include the compliant and/or useful media, the major corporations, and elected and top-ranking appointed officials -- at a minimum. Others could be included in surveillance exemptions, one assumes, provided they prove their loyalty and pledge undying fealty to their betters. On the other hand, maybe not.
The end game is to use the surveillance and security apparat to keep the rabble in check forever. Re-read your 1984 and/or Brave New World to see how it's done. Surveillance does not serve the State as a weapon for suppression if the proles don't know it's going on, if they don't fear being watched, listened to, and caught.
The series of revelations about surveillance in the Guardian and elsewhere has served as fair notice, you might say, and thus it has served the State.
Even so, I get a strong sense of an Inner Party factional dispute playing out here.
It's not about the surveillance, and it's certainly not about the 4th Amendment -- which was largely mooted nearly a century ago when Americans went through their first Red Scare. A case can be made that the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments have been only sporadically operative at best for much longer than that. Ask labor and civil rights leaders and historians.
Factional players in this drama have certain goals, of course. Some of them seem to want, more than anything, to discredit, indeed to destroy, the Obama Administration in particular and the "Democrat" Party in general. The level of vein popping Obama Hate on view would be unbelievable if it weren't for the fact that it's been present in some quarters since before he won the presidency. But there are other very powerful interests that are much more interested and preserving, protecting, and defending Our First Black President. Not so much because he is black as it is because he is slick. If you intend to keep the rabble in line, it is essential to keep up appearances, and so far, Obama seems to be handling that responsibility with remarkable ease. Does he know something we don't? Of course.
Meanwhile, the wheels are turning, turning, turning, implementing more and more and ever more of the neo-liberal/neo-conservative/neo-fascist corporate state, even while all eyes are on "Where's Edwardo?" and whatever TwitWar Greenwald is engaged in now. Those who rule us always look at crisis and catastrophe as opportunity to further extend their power and implement their programs.
This one is no less useful.
Guardian Editors on Charlie Rose last night:
http://www.charlierose.com/ (link will change by tomorrow, search on "Guardian editors Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson" for clip.)