As summer gets closer and closer to its conclusion, the NSA is furiously pumping out declassified documents to show... something. Exactly what it is we're seeing will take months or years of combing through and evaluation to clarify. It is in the nature of the beast.
The main issue -- that our lives are being surveilled and we're being spied upon by Our Rulers -- has been known and understood and talked about and so forth for years. We may not have known exactly what sorts of surveillance programs were in place or their names, but we knew they were there, and we knew that our personal lives were subject to all kinds of scrutiny by all kinds of entities, both public and private. We may not like it, but there is little we can do about it if we want to live in the material and modern world. Fact. Of. Life.
This summer's shark and missing white boy story over domestic and international surveillance has caused plenty of uproar and bombast, but there has been almost no effort to curb or restrict or abolish the Spy State under which we (all) live.
What there has been is a continuing effort to carve out exemptions from surveillance and the police state consequences of same. In other words, the continuing "civil liberties" campaign throughout the summer -- beginning with the AP Thing in May -- has been one to provide certain segments of the domestic and global population with assurances that they are not being (routinely) targeted and surveilled and that they will not be held to answer for matters that routine surveillance might disclose.
Starting with the Press and Media.
The whole flap over Greenwald's life-partner being detained in London and his things being confiscated by the Transit Stasi was about exemption. The claim was made, for example, that because Miranda was traveling on behalf of journalists Greenwald and Poitras, on a ticket paid for by the Guardian, the authorities at Heathrow should have had no cause or justification for detaining and questioning him under any circumstances, let alone cause or justification for seizing his property (which apparently included items he was transporting on behalf of Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian) because he was operating as an extension of and on behalf of journalists and publications which should be exempt from any interference or surveillance by the State.
Never mind all the tens of thousands of others who are detained and who have their things confiscated at transit hubs by the Transit Stasi of Britain and many other nations. Never. Mind. Them. They don't count. They don't get an exemption. After all, they might be terrorists or drug runners or white slavers or who knows what.
Journalists are -- by definition -- none of those things. Right? Therefore, they deserve and demand exemption from the imposition of authority that everyone else is subject to. Too bad, so sad for everyone else. Let them fight their own battles. Or not.
Other sectors of the population also demand exemption from interference and scrutiny by the State, including elected and high level appointed officials, high ranking corporate officials, the entire finance industry, spooks, and so on.
I've said from the beginning that provision of exemption is what this whole thing is all about -- along with establishing which of the spookeries will be made permanent Top Doggie. The struggle is for permanent dominance of the Surveillance/Police State (which functions as a parallel government, if you want to call it that) and over who will receive permanent exemption from scrutiny by the State has gone on for quite some time. This summer's news has been the catalyst for making those determinations once and for all.
The recent data dumps basically show something of how the top level of the Surveillance/Police State works and reveal some of the flaws in it. They provide no guidance of what to do about it, if anything. News reports of how pervasive surveillance is, and how intimately interrelated the surveillance systems (both public and private) are, got almost immediately turned into "NSA" stories, even though NSA appears to be a relatively minor component of the overall domestic surveillance apparat. All the demands that public focus stay exclusively on the NSA have apparently been effective enough that the existence of the bulk of the surveillance apparat -- which I've been pointing to for quite a while -- is essentially hidden from view. That seems to me to be one of the main objectives of the story. Keep the sheer bulk of the surveillance and the pervasiveness of both public and private sector surveillance out of public view, while focusing exclusively on a relatively minor portion of it. It's called "limited hangout."
So long as the focus is solely on the NSA, for example, few will even notice all the rest of the surveillance that is going on, nor will they be likely to see the daily consequences of it. So long as the efforts to provide exemptions from surveillance and police state tactics are focused on protecting the press and media -- particularly Greenwald, Miranda, Poitras and the Guardian -- what happens to the rest of us goes unnoticed.
Keeping the focus on government surveillance also has the consequence of obscuring the extent and depth of surveillance by private sector players. There's been an ongoing defense of private-corporate sector surveillance and participation in and creation of the surveillance state -- as if they are somehow bystanders or are being compelled against their will. It's bullshit. If anything, private/corporate sector players are leading government surveillance efforts, and they have long been using government surveillance of others for their own protection.
We should be thinking about what the Surveillance/Police State is for, after all, and who is actually benefiting from it, and who will continue to benefit from it once the summer is done.
But little of that can enter into a serious discussion or consideration at a time of such frenzy and hysteria over sharks in the water and missing white boys.
I've maintained that the High and the Mighty are the beneficiaries for whom the Surveillance/Police State was created and for whom it is operated today. No one else.
The Surveillance/Police State exists to protect and defend them from us, the Rabble.
There is no other purpose for it whatsoever.
It has nothing to do with "National" Security. It has everything to do with their security.
Exemptions are a means of dividing "us" from "them" -- permanently.
I've mentioned numerous times that what comes After Labor Day will be the key to understanding just what this summer's story has really been about. If the story disappears altogether, as I suspect it might, then it was "about" what Naomi Wolf suspected it was about from the beginning: letting the Rabble know in no uncertain terms that they were being watched at all times and that their actions were being evaluated every minute. "Get out of line, the man come and take you away." No lie. No joke. Such knowledge is itself a means of Rabble Control.
If it stays in the news, on the other hand, it may well represent the public face of an Inner Party struggle for ultimate control of the Surveillance/Police State -- on the assumption that what the Rabble knows or doesn't know doesn't matter. The Rabble doesn't matter. Who is in control is the only thing that matters.
Both can be true at the same time, of course.
The key to understanding will be found in whether any action, beyond codifying exemptions, is taken to curb the Surveillance/Police State After Labor Day.
My bet is that once exemptions are codified, the Surveillance/Police State will be extended...
We live in Interesting Times.