The attack line against whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – that they should have gone through “proper channels” – ignores that those oversight channels have been badly corrupted over the past several decades. That has left Americans dependent on out-of-channel leaks, says ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman.
In lifting the curtain of secrecy only slightly, the Obama administration says U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet communications has helped disrupt dozens of terror plots and is subjected to rigorous checks and balances. But the continued secrecy shows the need for whistleblowers, writes ex-British intelligence official Annie Machon.
President Obama has alienated much of his liberal base by coming across increasingly as a toady to the Establishment, with his defense of drone strikes, his embrace of the surveillance state and his prosecution of anti-secrecy whistleblowers, as Lawrence Davidson explains.
More than a decade ago, as President George W. Bush sought legal cover for invading Iraq, the National Security Agency spied on key UN diplomats with the hope of blackmailing them. But British intelligence officer Katharine Gun leaked the secret and – like Edward Snowden today – changed the debate, Marcia Mitchell recalls.
From the Archive: Only public outrage – global and domestic – stands any hope of pushing back the National Security Agency’s “surveillance state.” As hard as that may be, there was success a decade ago disrupting President George W. Bush’s Orwellian Total Information Awareness that Nat Parry described in 2002.
Exclusive: U.S. government officials insist that their secret surveillance techniques are so valuable in fighting “terrorism” that they must be kept completely in the dark – along with the American people. This alleged imperative has justified even lying to Congress, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern observes.
The emergence of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden represents just the tip of the iceberg of a popular resistance that is challenging the U.S. government’s excesses in secrecy and surveillance, a movement that Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir discusses with Dennis J Bernstein.
The mainstream media’s assault on Edward Snowden’s character has begun, with columns in outlets like the Washington Post and The New Yorker calling him “narcissistic” and reckless. But his brave disclosures highlight how out of control the U.S. surveillance state is and how it threatens democracy, says Christopher H. Pyle.
U.S. government officials (and many mainstream pundits) assure Americans that there’s nothing to fear from the electronic surveillance aimed at “terrorists,” but some intelligence experts say the new techniques could ultimately intimidate people from participating in democracy, as author Christopher Simpson tells Dennis J Bernstein.
It is true, as President Obama says, that you can’t have 100% security and 100% privacy, but it’s also true that you can never have 100% security – and seeking it often makes you less secure by creating more enemies. Any debate on this must include the imperfect process called “conflict transformation,” says Patrick T. Hiller.