Current Events, Federalism, Just musing

America Through PRISM Colored Glasses

Edward Snowden.

Say the name and the Feds go wilder than a college girl in a Joe Francis film. Intelligence Agents go deeper into the Rabbit Hole. And journalists keep regurgitating ‘Official Sources’, poor investigative journalism.

Edward Snowden.

What he represents, what this story demonstrates, is that it only takes one, ONE, to inform the world while the majority remain silent. Who said that a single vote doesn’t count, that one person can’t bring about change?

A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden, now ex-employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), felt he’d had enough. After obtaining documents on the NSA PRISM program, he forwarded them to the Guardian and Washington Post. The PRISM program is NSA’s covert surveillance program that snoops on every kind of communication in existence, looking for…

Who the hell knows. It’s classified. But rumors are that it’s gobbling up any and all data passing through major communications and information systems: Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Verizon, Dropbox, etc. And then there’s some filtering going on to flag keywords and…

Who the hell knows. It’s classified.

We’re not exactly sure how it chooses targets: En masse, gobbling with filters or filtering only chosen targets, letting harmless sexting pass. This ambiguity leaves us commoners screaming doom and gloom, 1984. And the Guberment says, “Trust Us Mr. Mulder”.

It’s fracking classified!

Until all the chips fall and the technology is declassified with all the Kennedy documents (never), I’m afraid we’re not going to know. And that’s where it gets dangerous. The more government snooping and secrecy, the more breeding of distrust. The more Big-Brother peeking at our diaries, the more we seeth at Washington. The more seething, the more massing of the masses against the castle walls. President Obama promised a “transparent” government. Telling the commoners to settle down and it’s not really like clerks are reading our emails, well, we don’t really know that do we? About as transparent as my fogged over headlights on my 2001 ageing Ford Focus.

PRISM isn’t the first data gobbler. October 1997 saw the advent of Carnivore. This Windows based computer sat in an ISP and, with a court order, sniffed out emails of targets for the FBI. But even older than that, we have ECHELON. A communication intercepting system used by the United States, England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It’s intent was to spy on the Soviet Union. However, it has the capability to intercept worldwide. The United States arm of ECHELON is…guess who? The NSA. How often has it been used domestically? We don’t know because…

We have many, numerous intelligence agencies. One man came out of the NSA to expose PRISM. What about the CIA? FBI? Office of Naval Intelligence? Department of Blah-Blah? What programs do they have running? Anything domestically?

The number of NSA employees is classified (duh). But in comparison to other intelligence agencies, we can reasonably figure the NSA has several thousand on the roster. Yet only one, ONE, man came forward to tell the American people about the PRISM program. ONE came forward to say enough is enough and tried to sound the alarm. One. This isn’t Highlander. Why aren’t more coming forward to confirm things like this? It’s an easy answer.

Money, health care, support of family, taking care of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Those are hard things to give up if taken care of by your job. Let’s examine Mr. Snowden. He threw away an intelligence career which earned him over $150,000 a year, he left his home in the United States with hopes he could receive asylum in Hong Kong and left behind a girlfriend who appears to have been rather engaged with him. That is quite a lot to give up to be a Paul Revere. But someone’s gotta do it, right?

It’s easier to ask others to be heros, to risk others life and property, than to do the deed yourself. Studies in psychology reveal that people help less the more people there are in any given situation. A man grasping his chest and collapsing in a crowded shopping mall will have more gawkers than assistants. I suppose with thousands of complicit employees in the intelligence community, maybe we’re seeing something on that level. I can’t say I’d be as brave as Edward Snowden. Or as a Julian Assange or Daniel Ellsberg. I can imagine being a hero, rising to the occasion, but none of us can really say for sure. How many of us slow down at the scene of a fresh car accident, to get a better look at the bodies, only to drive on our merry way and figure, “eh, surely first responders are on the way.”

So while this ain’t going away any time soon, in the meantime, if you wanna have a little cacophonous fun, maybe copy/paste “Bomb”, “Overthrow”, “Jefferson”, “Damn Guberment”, “Constitution” and “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Epic!” at the end of each email, text, fax and FaceBook post. Remember the first time Neo met Mr. Smith? You could relive it in your very own adventure. Or be like Michael Douglas in The Game. *

* Individual results may vary, not recommended for those who can’t shimmy down a tall building scaffolding system, may contain peanuts, call before you dig, live wire, offer void in Nebraska.

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