I've been seeing a lot of hoohah on the InterTubes about this big ol' fight we're in to restore or preserve the 4th Amendment from all the big meanies that are trying to take it from us, and it seems so perfectly out of touch to me.
At this point, there is no fight. There's a lot of complaining and hyperventilating, a lot of relatively impracticable notions about how to circumvent the spy-bots, and a lot of rox-sux bloviating about who's the Bestest and who's the Worstest, but no "fight" to speak of at all.
In part, I maintain, this is because what is being highlighted in the media this summer -- and this is a Summer Shark Story as well as a Missing White Boy Story, make no mistake -- has no discernible effect on most people. That's not to defend NSA or any of the other surveillance agencies or the surveillance industry as a whole. It is to try to point out that the NSA Story, the Only One we are supposed to be paying attention to, is one that has -- as yet -- no on the ground victims except in the abstract, as in "Everyone."
But then when everyone is a victim, no one is. Literally, we're all in the same boat.
What I've tried to point out is that all sorts of interests and individuals have been demanding their private/personal exemptions from the surveillance state, and some of them have been granted, at least in part, so while all the animals are equal, some are more equal than others. Yet ultimately, if you're going to live in the Modern World, there is literally no escape from the surveillance 'bots.They're everywhere and they track your every move.
There was a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday in which much bloviating took place, much hypocrisy was on display, and much public thrashing of the surveillance state was undertaken. Nothing came of it; nothing was meant to. Little or nothing will change, except that going forward We, the Rabble, will be somewhat better informed about the existence and scope of the surveillance we are under. That is all.
I've seen plenty of calls for a New Church Committee, and who knows, maybe there will be one, but if so one shouldn't expect much or anything from it, as there is obviously no intent by the players to back down from their game. For its part, the Church Committee didn't accomplish much but providing justifications for legalizing many of the questionable activities it was investigating.
There have been loud and passionate calls for the immediate impeachment of the President, for the sacking of General Alexander and General Clapper, for the reform of various surveillance laws and so forth, all of which amounts to a lot of hot air, but not much action.
Why? Simple. The surveillance state protects those in power. That's its purpose, no matter how it is marketed. Those who want power -- or more power -- want the surveillance apparat pretty much as it is, not diminished in any way, so as to protect their own power when they manage to acquire it. If acquiring that power requires public thrashing of the surveillance agencies, so be it, but in no way does the thrashing diminish the usefulness or the intentions of the surveillance apparatus itself.
After all, we've been living under various forms of ongoing and intrusive government and private sector surveillance for a century or more, right here in these United States, and little or nothing has been done over the decades to diminish the surveillance we are under. The thrust has all been in the other direction, to expand it. To the point where most of us don't notice it.
Until, that is, we're part of the ever-expanding number of Out Groups, and then we may not only notice the surveillance, we notice the effects of it, what it's used for and who it is really being used against, and we may even come to the realization that those who are promoting the story this summer have no intent to reduce or remove the surveillance of the rabble. They have a different objective in mind.
For some of them, it is to gain control of the surveillance state, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of their patrons. In this respect, Greenwald and Snowden, among others, are obviously factional players, Greenwald a long-time player for the Corporate Libertarian team. Snowden's position on the field is somewhat murkier, in part because he seems to be working at cross purposes, and he now appears to be genuinely trapped in Moscow with few or no options for escape. He's played his role to the end, perhaps, and there's no more need of him by whatever agency sent him forth -- assuming that's what happened at all. There's no way to be sure.
One theory that seems to have some resonance, though again, there's no way to be sure, is that Snowden initially was part of an ongoing power play between the CIA (which he once was) and the NSA (which he became) that has to do with the various decapitations and so on that have occurred over the years of rivalry between the agencies for control of what we might call the American Deep State. What we are allowed to see is not necessarily what's happening at all. Connecting the dots may make a pretty picture, but it doesn't necessarily show us anything.
Greenwald's story about it has become chaotic and is in jeopardy of falling apart. I doubt his editors at the Guardian have much control over his tendency to overshoot the mark, but it's obvious they're trying to keep the story on track, while Greenwald's been going off on tangents and engaging in endless pissing matches with The Rest of the Media, largely obscuring the Real Story -- whatever it is -- in the process (not that he had any intention of revealing it to begin with.) While he keeps claiming the story is not about him or Snowden, he keeps making it about him and Snowden. The boy can't help it.
His latest gambit is to claim that Reuters fabricated a story based on his interview with the Argentinian La Nacion. He claims that they completely -- and no doubt deliberately, because they're such tools of Obama and such -- misrepresented and mischaracterized his statements in the interview to make it seem like he was saying the exact opposite of what he meant. In the process of denouncing Reuters, he's been trying to essentially re-write the interview he gave to La Nacion so as to make it say what he now says he meant. It's been quite a spectacle of vein-popping, white-hot OUTRAGE!!!!! ™ but without much substance, as for some reason, he doesn't actually deny what he said in the interview itself, merely seems to be claiming that something was lost in translation, as he was speaking English and Portuguese through translators to an interviewer speaking Spanish. Right. Whatever. He's also begun to alter his story of how and when he came into contact with Snowden and what ensued. Oh well...
Ultimately, this may turn out to be less than a tempest in a teapot, as events have a nasty way of intervening to diminish even The Most Important Stories In The World, Evah! This may be one of them, I don't know.
The OUTRAGE!!!!™ that this story has inspired, however, has not led to any substantive changes in the programs so far revealed, and it has not led to a general "fight" to preserve or restore the 4th Amendment or to actually do much of anything about the surveillance state, an "avalanche of lawsuits" notwithstanding.
If anything, what's been revealed and debated so far has led to the consolidation of power in the Global Security/Surveillance State, not its diminution. Whatever else happens, I doubt that will change.
[A note: Just watch out for the hasbara and propaganda. Much of it is as outrageous as anything Stalinists could have come up with back in the day, and they were masters of deflection, denial, and mob action to silence questions and critics. We're seeing a lot of that again.]