Friday, May 16, 2014
Not Snowed by Snowden
There are a plethora of views in this universe -- albeit millions of them -- to which one can subscribe. The question becomes what is truth. From our vantage points, at least from mine, the opinions I form are based on those whose points of view I value both from a correctness standpoint and a humanitarian standpoint. It is next to impossible to check the veracity of every idea and every "fact." Therefore, I end up accepting, at least for the moment, points of view that seem plausible and have at least some of the evidence required.
It was clear, for example, that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. That was verified although in truth they had used some on the Kurds years before the US invasion but had none after it. The Bush administration was looking for a reason to attack Iraq no matter the spuriousness of the evidence so he invented some, pulling the wool over the eyes of many. To be sure, it was a dastardly lie that took us to Iraq -- an illegal, and immoral war for which, sadly, no one of power will pay the price.
The "Frontline" documentary "United States of Secrets" (link here and below) about NSA spying presents a wide array of views that existed at the inception of the Bush administration NSA spying program after 911. I am leery of PBS now since the Koch Brothers and their ilk have taken over this once prestigious educational network. Frontline, though, in my opinion, still remains a world apart and I believe still speaks truth. It iterates both a rationale for NSA spying and at the same time exposes the Pentagon pretzel into which it turned to try to conform its policy to Constitutional due process mandates. Frontline, in this episode, interviewed many -- whistle blowers and administration supporters alike. We as average citizens can never really assess the veracity of all of it but can think rationally about the terrorist threat after the excoriating tragedy of 9/11.
Certain truths cannot, I think, be denied. The 9/11 attack on our nation happened and it changed everything. The fact that 3000 innocent human beings in this nation went to work on a gorgeous sunny day only to be slaughtered where they sat is truth irrespective of a few spouting a terrorist chickens-coming-home-to-roost rationale for it.
I am concerned, irrespective of foreign policy issues in the past, for the life of this nation in the present. Survival is the first law of nature. No matter what this nation does at this point in time even if it changed its foreign policy 360 degrees, I believe it would not matter. There are those who want to destroy us now by any means necessary and some, perhaps even many, use the dictates of religion or other politically extremist views as an excuse to do it. They will, I believe, if given the chance annihilate us. We live in an existential time and it is chilling.
In this Frontline episode I do see General Hayden's point of view. There are those in the State Department, the Pentagon, the Defense Department and in the NSA too who truly do try to protect us every day -- night AND day -- they exist. Without them we as a nation would be compromised perhaps even destroyed. This is why I do not care about the NSA collection of mega data even though under ordinary circumstances it would probably be, in fact, unconstitutional. It matters not to me anymore. FACTS: There are those who want to destroy us and survival is the first law of nature.
When one revisits the 9/11 experience which I did during the poignant 9/11 Memorial Thursday one sees again the utter devastation of the 9/11 attack on our nation. It does not matter to me except as an academic exercise and example of error laden US policy if 60 years ago (when I was 4 years old) this government took down Mosadeq of Iran and most probably other powers by surreptitious means. I do not care about that now. I care for my survival, my loved ones' survival and my country's survival warts and all. It is, I believe, still the best place to be and there are those still who give their life to get here.
The threat to the life of our nation exists and I am convinced that there are those whose life's dream is to attack again possibly in an even more devastating manner. The hatred of those who despise us is embedded in the fabric of their being. We, I believe, are at an existential moment no matter the previous historical causes.
It may surprise some but in this era on this day I do not care the nation began an NSA mega data spying program. I believe the fear is so great among those in positions of power that the government thinks it has no choice but to implement it. So far no one is hauling me off to jail for the opinions, often critical of government, about which I write. Will some government in the future one whose opinions coincide even less with my own threaten me? I do not know. But I do know the national security state goes to work every day, knowing a massive threat to our nation exists and no president on his/her watch wants to court the possibility of a second even more lethal than 9/11 attack.
Our Constitutional Amendments are not suicide pacts. If we are all dead the 4th Amendment will mean nothing. Pre 9/11 those who would think Snowden a hero would have credibility. After 9/11, however, what Edward Snowden did was, as I see it, despicable. Who the hell is he to make the decision he did, risking your life and mine while taking cover in a nation, Russia, which has on its own been guilty of the most egregious human rights offenses killing between 40 and 60 million people at the hands of Joseph Stalin. Who knows what history will say of Vladimir Putin? He is not Ghandi.
I do believe if I were in the same position as Snowden, had the knowledge he did and the means to expose it I would never compromise my nation. Who can possibly scrutinize every one of the 10s of thousands maybe millions of classified documents Snowden took with him exposing many?
The world is a tough place. I believe contrary to many who sit on my side of the political spectrum our nation is still the world's last great hope of government by the people. What Snowden did and what Greenwald, Poitras and others helped him do was, I believe, at the very least unethical and at most criminal.
This is the post 9/11 era. 3000 innocent human beings did not deserve to lose their lives in tornado-like fashion on a crystal clear beautiful day. No matter how much we change the trajectory of US foreign policy the animus of our enemies will never be quelled. This requires a different response for a different day. Your life, my life, our nation's life depend upon it.