The last couple of days have displayed one of the most remarkable news cycles in quite a long time. I'd say there's been nothing quite like it since the opening of the Pentagon Papers fracas all those many years ago. Certainly the Bradley Manning Thing has never reached this level of hoarse-throated media screaming frenzy. Nor did even the recent AP Thing reach this level of extremity.
Glenn breaks a story in the Guardian (in a piece that was clearly and rather heavily massaged by someone else; I'm pretty sure that was Spencer Ackerman, though it may have been simply the Guardian's editorial department) touching on the breadth and depth of domestic spying in this country, using -- for the first time that I know of -- an actual FISA court order as the primary documentation. There is a good deal of to-do over this breaking story, not so much because the information it presents is all that "new" (it isn't, not to those who have been following the metastasizing Security State) but because it is now firmly documented in black and white for the first time. It's no long a matter of what "sources familiar with the program(s)" are saying about them, it is now directly a matter of what a top secret court has ordered.
It was interesting that the WaPo and NYT jumped into the fray with their own stories, apparently independently sourced, almost immediately, presenting the same information in pretty much the same way, essentially confirming the Guardian story in detail and actually expanding on the story in some ways.
These didn't look to be stories written in haste to play catch up, either. It was almost as if these stories were mostly pre-written.
Then almost immediately thereafter, we had the stories about the internet being hoovered by the Agencies, now being slightly walked back ("foreign internet only, don'tchaknow.")
Both the WaPo and the NYT are notorious for their close associations with the American spy shops, government agencies and factional players within the government. They are often doing the bidding of one or another of the agencies or factions, and frequently they act as little more than propaganda organs for the government sequentially or simultaneously. This is well-known, but it doesn't seem to be so well understood, as many people still rely on them as primary news sources and believe that what they read in the Times or the Post is credible and correct. There are plenty of people who continue to believe that if something isn't in the NYT or the WaPo, it isn't really "news" at all.
The Guardian has always been outside this nexus, or so it would seem, being British and all. But I started to wonder about it when the Guardian, along with the NYT, became primary publisher of Wikileaks material.
This became very much a Spy vs Spy issue in my mind as all kinds of mainstream -- and compromised -- outlets were added to the primary publisher category for Wikileaks. My suspicions were heightened that Wikileaks was not just a matter of a honey-pot, but of a serious effort to tightly control the what and how of information release. Julian's eventual fallings-out with the media he himself had chosen as publishers of the trove he had received from Manning were signs to me that Julian wasn't terribly bright -- or that he was as compromised as the outlets he had chosen. The extraordinary level of drama surrounding his various run-ins with The Law and his eventual running to ground over Swedish/Interpol warrants really took away from anything Wikileaks presented to the World, and has by this point made Wikileaks into a very marginal player in the numberless rounds of charge and counter charge in the whole "sekrits" game.
Ever since the Correspondents' Dinner, Team Obama has been under an apparently withering assault from the Right and parts of the media over this or that "scandal" -- to wit, the IRS Thing, the AP Spying Thing, the FOX Reporter Thing, etc. Each one has been ginned up to a frenzy and then left dangling. Now there's this.
When the media Things got all that attention, I -- among a few others -- said, "Wait just a damned minute. This surveillance shit has been perpetrated against the People of the United States for years and years, and you want some kind of special exemption for the highly compromised media? The answer is NO! The issue is the general surveillance of the American People, and until and unless the media makes that a Big Deal, I'm not going to have much sympathy for the AP or FOX."
And would ya lookit now.
Some observers have questioned both the timing and the content of the current leaks regarding domestic surveillance. Given the widespread rightist ideological framework of the previous leaks -- and the OUTRAGE!!!® produced by the current ones -- and the highly personal tenor of the anti-Obama frenzy that's being manufactured over all of them ("I voted for this man TWICE!!! He betrayed me!!!!") I wouldn't be at all surprised if every bit of it isn't part and parcel of a carefully engineered Get Obama! Campaign being waged by the rightist of rightist factions within the government/media-plex for the purpose of ending Obama's already highly constrained ability to govern.
The personal character of the OUTRAGE!!!!® is a tell that there is no intent to curtail the Surveillance State. The intent is merely to hamstring the President.
Who would be interested in that, one wonders. Well, of course, it's the Cheneys and those they serve. This has been obvious as sin since day one of the Obama Administration -- since even before it began. That harpie-spawn of the Devil Dick was carrying on like a total madwoman -- and she was on all the shows, too -- over Obama's announced plans to review and revise and reconsider all the elements of the Great And Glorious Cheney Wars, and her relentless carping had an obvious effect.
In fact, her efforts and those of her father's seemed to terrify the White House into compliance with the wishes of House Cheney in almost every particular. Ever since, any time a Cheney arises from the crypt to lambaste the White House and Obama for this or that failing or overreach, the White House complies with their demands.
Cheney, in effect, is still President. Who the Cheneys serve is another question, though, isn't it.
At any rate, the Surveillance State is a Cheney innovation, and the likely shakeout of all this hoo-hah is that surveillance will be redoubled, not curtailed. There is no doubt in my mind that the Constitution will not be restored to viability, and there is no intention whatsoever that it be revived. In fact, the intent seems to me to be to ensure its perpetual irrelevance from now on. I can see no real intent to get rid of Obama, but there is plenty of intent to control him, and the Cheneys have shown they can do that with barely a curl of their lip. The media has already declared Obama's Second Term Agenda (whatever it might have been, and I surely don't know) to be Dead, Dead, Dead; his only choice is to follow the dictates of the Rightists who've been in charge all along anyway.
OUTRAGE!!!!® is a product, these days it's a packaged product traded for attention and favors. The internet cannot exist without it in abundant measure. The fact that Americans are being surveilled in their multitudes has long been discussed, but not necessarily documented the way it is now. There is no sign -- at all -- that the White House or the Congress (and certainly not the courts) will back off even an inch from the level of universal surveillance currently in place, nor is there much evidence (at least so far) that the People will be up in arms about it. As is so often the case, leftish internet OUTRAGE!!!!® will have no perceptible effect on policy. On the other hand, the existence of leftish OUTRAGE!!!!® at Team Obama will have the effect of further constraining any effort at adopting or expanding positive policies on behalf of the People.
The Surveillance State, after all, exists to preserve, protect and defend the (rightist) government and its sponsors from the People. So far, so good.
We'll see. There may be many more shoes left to drop. I would bet money though that the upshot will be even more surveillance and repression, more inverted totalitarianism.
We are not getting out of this handbasket anytime soon.
Scott Creighton continues to cast his jaundiced but gimlet eye on the Whole Thing. Check it out. You and I may not agree with his perspective, but then again...