Sunday, November 3, 2013

NSA Back In the News

Young Snowden has been photographed pushing a shopping cart at the Moskva Target (or its equivalent, one assumes) and sailing on the Moskva River with Sarah Harrison (one assumes). Of course they may not be Snowden, just a look alike. They appear to have been taken during the summertime, which doen't mean a whole lot, since Young Snowden was said to have been freed from his airport captivity sometime during the summer, but that these pictures would only now surface, and on what's said to be a sleazy tabloid news site in Russia as opposed to prim and proper FOX News in America, makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Of course this is nicely timed with the story of Greenwald finding  his billionaire and leaving the Guardian for greener -- much greener -- pastures to play in with his buds Laura and Jeremy.  With the addition of Froomkin and Segura, it's a media empire-in-process. All they'll need to add now is Michael Hastings. Oh, wait.

Greenwald's last column at the Guardian was a strange little thing, written in what seemed like a daze, primarily focused, not on his departure for the Omidyar stable, but on "standing against a sustained and unprecedented attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process in the US." This is a man who was welcomed into the "progressive" blogosphere in 2005, and was hailed and praised for his full-throated denunciations of the Bush Regime, none of which ever seemed to put him at hazard -- strangely, given the overall viciousness of the Busheviks toward questioning and contempt by the media -- and who took a seat at the table as it were when he was hired by the chronically ailing and mismanaged pioneer online news magazine Salon two years later. My, my, my, what a meteoric rise, almost -- but not entirely -- unprecedented. What was odd about it was that there was nothing particularly progressive, certainly nothing at all leftist, in anything he wrote. He was -- and apparently is -- a libertarian, and not always a 'civil' one either, intent on a kind of Old Testament Prophet-like dominance over the governments of the world and their handmaiden media. If you look, it's really quite bizarre, but we live in interesting times.

The NSA has served as a prop, not as a central issue, in whatever quest this man is on. The Snowden Cache is used something like a volume of secret divinations and spells to compel certain actions by political leaders, the media and the public. 

From the standpoint of domestic surveillance, the NSA is barely a player. They have vast capabilities and resources, but domestic surveillance as such is undertaken by a plethora of government and private agencies that are barely mentioned in public, not by the NSA -- which apparently serves as a repository and backup resource, not a primary element in the domestic surveillance industry. The NSA could disappear tomorrow with hardly any effect on the domestic surveillance industry at all; it would go on practically untouched.

Yet the summertime hysteria over surveillance was almost entirely focused on the NSA. I wondered why. I still do. To the extent the story wasn't entirely a summer shark and missing white boy story (and it was largely that for the duration of the summer) it looked to me like the outward expression of an Inner Party struggle over who -- or what -- would be in charge of the surveillance state, not getting rid of it or controlling it on behalf of the unwashed masses. Far from it. Anything but.

No, the issue is not -- ever -- about getting rid of the surveillance state or instituting some kind of public oversight and control of it on behalf of the masses. The underlying issue has always been who -- and what -- should be exempt from surveillance on behalf of the elites.

This was made starkly clear when the surveillance of Frau Merkel's cell phone (which apparently began in 2005) was revealed from the information in the Snowden Cache. Merkel demanded an exemption -- for herself. Previously, in fact well before the Greenwald summer shark story about the NSA, various others were demanding exemptions from surveillance, starting with the media itself.

But the public? The masses? Never, ever is exempting the rabble from surveillance more than an abstract notion in "debate." No, the "debate" is really only about exemptions for particular factions and interests of the elites. For, let's face it, the purpose and function of the Surveillance State is to keep tabs on the roiling rabble to ensure that it will never successfully rise against its masters. Never.

If that isn't clear to everyone yet, then people are not really paying attention to what is going on here, what has been going on for decades. The Surveillance State exists to ensure that the rabble never succeeds in rising against their rulers. Period.

You would never -- ever -- know that from the way the surveillance story was rolled out and has been covered since. You would never know what the bulk of surveillance is for, nor would you know who and what does it. You would focus on the NSA, almost exclusively, and ignore -- or not know about at all -- the many other layers of domestic surveillance that literally overwhelm any provisions of "privacy" Americans may think they are guaranteed.

The "debate" has focused on who should and should not be surveilled, not the purposes of the Surveillance State. Until that debate is engaged, there will be no relenting of the surveillance of the masses. If anything, it will be redoubled.

I've repeatedly pointed out that there is a vast domestic surveillance industry that has practically nothing to do with the NSA and its largely military-directed and overseas surveillance. There has long been a domestic struggle within the surveillance industry for predominance, particularly between the CIA and the NSA. Both have their corporate partners.

From my jaundiced point of view, this particular media shitstorm, inaugurated and kept in play by Glenn Greenwald, is being driven by an Inner Party faction that wants a more prominent role in the expansion and control of the Surveillance State. The media hits on the NSA driven by Snowden (who was a CIA operative and may still be one) indicate that it is a CIA faction behind the story. But Greenwald's central role indicates to me that underlying it all is a corporate struggle for control of the Surveillance State they themselves have created and operated on behalf of themselves and the government.

The hypocritical screeching of some of the corporate partners of the Surveillance State -- their lies and deceptions about their participation have been outrageous -- indicate that they, ultimately, seek to operate and control the Surveillance State on their own behalf without the interference of the potentially (if not actually) public-interest focused government.

That's where this is going.

The fact that the public now knows some of the details of NSA and other surveillance they are under hasn't changed anything about the surveillance itself, nor will it. As many have pointed out, the effectiveness of a surveillance regime is enhanced -- not reduced -- by revealing its existence and extent to the public which is being surveilled. People who are aware that they are being surveilled and that what they say and do in the absence of privacy can and will be used against them if they dare to get out of line is a very powerful control mechanism used effectively by every totalitarian regime in history. It is being used on us, and the more we are told about how pervasive the surveillance is, the more effective its control.

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