Friday, July 4, 2014

About Those Exemptions...

As I think the whole wide world knows by now, Glenn Greenwald's Fireworks Extravaganza, "Naming Names" of those surveilled by the All-Knowing All-Powerful Government through the NSA... fizzled out.

Reminds me of the time we were in Anchorage and stood out on the balcony of our apartment to witness the grand fireworks show that was to culminate the 25th Anniversary of Statehood. Just as the show was to get underway, a fog bank moved in from the bay. The show went on as scheduled. We could hear the booms and from time to time, the fog lit up a little bit, but for the most part... nothing. To say it was somewhat anti-climactic was to be generous.

And so, from Greenwald, et al, there's nothing but fog, not even a glimmer of fireworks, to cap the anniversary of the Snowden NSA revelations.

After more than a year of revelations, there is no legislation worthy of the name that will rein in the surveillance agencies, most people have no idea how extensive the surveillance they're under is and those who do know largely don't care, and people like Greenwald and his sponsors and collaborators are content with demanding exemptions from surveillance for themselves -- the rest of us can pound sand for all they care. Their vaunted "principles" of privacy are only valid among their own kind, a kind to which the vast majority of people do not belong.

Even as anticipation grew regarding the naming of names of those under NSA surveillance, Greenwald was backing off, substituting the kinds of people under NSA surveillance for the names of individuals.

Well, I think most people already know the kinds of people who are subject to scrutiny by governments: they are mostly leftish-wing dissenters from the established order, no? Anyone who might pose an immanent or eventual threat to the powers that be is automatically included. The usual suspects, in other words. For the most part, that does not include right-wing critics at all. It generally doesn't include those who profess libertarian leanings. It usually doesn't include religious wack-jobs either, not after the Waco disaster.

It does include anarchists, liberationists, communitarians, communists, socialists, peace advocates, and practically anyone opposed to fossil or nuclear fuel use/expansion, anyone in favor of animal rights, lgbt rights, or civil or human rights beyond those already provided by Our All-Knowing and All-Powerful Government. Any of the groups that these people may belong to or support are of course subject to routine, intrusive surveillance including infiltration and provocation to violence. Mustn't forget the Muslim hordes, either.

We know this. It's been true for all our lives. The left -- so called -- has always been subjected to intense scrutiny and infiltration by government in this country, for the simple fact that leftist ideology has long been considered a threat to the established order and must therefore be surveilled and when necessary it be suppressed.

The same is true of black folk and brown folk in general, especially when not enfolded into the dominant culture. Black folk and brown folk who get uppity about their place are a problem to be confronted and controlled as are economically deprived white folk. Color matters, but so does wealth and status.

Those who are of sufficient wealth and sufficient status generally -- though not always -- are immune from routine surveillance, arrest, prosecution and conviction, depending on their position within the hierarchy.

Elected representatives of the people, for example, face continual scrutiny by the security apparat, and they can be subjected to criminal arrest and prosecution for even the slightest legal transgression -- though it remains somewhat rare. The more "left" they are, the more likely they are to be rounded up and detained. They know this.

The issue with Greenwald and his sponsors has always been about those exemptions, though. Certain categories of people are typically exempt from surveillance and the potential consequences of surveillance. Exemptions depend largely on wealth and status of individuals and tie-ins with the establishment for groups.

This has been a truism since the founding of the republic.

Greenwald goes on and on about the sacredness of privacy, but it has only ever applied to a few and only to the extent that those few choose. It is not an innately sacred principle, certainly not of the United States of America.

"Privacy" for the masses is a relatively new idea which wouldn't have occurred to the Founders. It would have seemed bizarre and anti-social.

What Greenwald et al demand are exemptions from surveillance to be extended and confirmed for themselves, their friends, family, colleagues and peers. This idea of exemption is based more on theories of lawyer-client privilege, it seems to me, than it is on anything else, and it doesn't really apply to most people, nor would it ever.

In other words, People Like Greenwald -- and those he chooses -- should be exempt; others must fight their own battles, good luck, suckers.

Even if Greenwald does produce a list of NSA targets eventually, the moment has passed for his fireworks display. By the time he gets around to it, maybe at the end of this season of sharks and missing white women, the news cycle will have moved on.

Cryptome is cryptically claiming a complete Snowden Document Dump -- one assumes including the Names -- is coming before the end of July, with or without Greenwald's involvement. It could happen.

Breath holding, however, is not advised.

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