Snowden and Freedom

By A. G. Moore 7/15/2013

In 1903, Julius Neubronner patented a pidgeon camera
Photo by Julius Neubronner on Wikimedia Commons  Public Domain: Copyright expired

Ten days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, George Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. In his speech he said that many Americans wondered, “Why do they hate us?” The president’s answer was: “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Looking back, I’d have to say, if Bush was right in his speech, then there is much less to hate us for today than there was twelve years ago. Because, as Snowden’s NSA leaks reveal, the freedoms enumerated by Bush have been gutted since 2001.

Now, not only do I have dirty bombs and random acts of terror to worry about; I’ve got my telephone and my computer–maybe even a GPS tracking device hidden under the hood of my car to fret over. When news first broke about Edward Snowden and the NSA domestic spy program, some dismissed the revelations as no big deal. Time magazine’s Joe Klein, for example, said on June 10th: “We pretty much knew everything that has ‘broken’ in the past week“. Well, I’ve got news for Mr. Klein: I didn’t know. I naively believed there were safeguards in place, provisions in law that protected my person, and my home, from government intrusion.

Now I learn that not only am I surveilled on public streets by ubiquitously placed cameras, but that equipment in my home–even the Xbox, for goodness sake–is likely spying on me. And all the information collected, the trivial and seemingly inconsequential, becomes a data-generated doppelganger, a kind of mini-me, that is stored and potentially retrieved for…what purpose? I don’t know. Orwell imagined it all years ago. I’m not Orwell. And I’m not Snowden. I’m not even Joe Klein.

I’m just a (formerly) credulous American who is astonished and dismayed. To paraphrase a Bush-era apologist: “...there are… unknown unknowns…things we do not know we don’t know.”(Donald Rumsfeld at a 2002 press conference). Captures perfectly the essence of paranoia, doesn’t it? Exactly the way I feel now.

The current administration’s vigor and venom in pursuing Edward Snowden and other “leakers” suggest that paranoia is not misplaced. What are the dark secrets elected representatives are keeping from me? These men and women, who fill the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, hold the public trust in order to express my will, not impose theirs on me.

Let there be light–whether that light be forced through leaks or introduced by more conventional methods. It’s time for my government to come out of the shadows, time for it to reduce paranoia engendered by secrecy and unconstitutional policies.

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