By A. G. Moore 8/19/2013
Carlos Lorca, Victim of Pinochet’s Secret Police
Photo provided by Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos – Londres
I don’t know whether I should be grateful that I’m too insignificant for government spy hounds to bother with- -or if I should worry because, should I catch the notice of the domestic spy network, there will be no Guardian lawyer or influential journalist to help me. Whatever the case, the detention yesterday of David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner, has given me, yet again, reason to be uneasy about my own, and my fellow citizens’, security.
As government excess in pursuit of Edward Snowden becomes more flagrant, the value of Snowden’s leaked information grows more apparent. All who value liberty know now for certain one fact: Edward Snowden is a hero. He has performed a public service of unprecedented significance. While his act of civic disobedience has been compared to Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers, there is no equivalency between the two. Ellsberg helped to end one war; Snowden may have put a stop to a vast government conspiracy against the American people.
One of the most startling–frightening–aspects of the government conspiracy is that so many of those elected as the people’s representatives have leapt to defend the assault on liberty. These apologists do not deny that a domestic spy network exists–they simply assert that this network is essential to maintaining national security.
Mao, Pinochet, Stalin–all acted in the name of national security. Some hallmarks of their security apparatus bear an unsettling resemblance to the security apparatus created by the U. S. government: a lack of transparency; parallel justice system for those accused of acts against the state; suspension of civil liberties.
Any minimally educated child in the U. S. knows that grievances against government led to the American Revolution. These included a distant and indifferent king who violated the people’s sense of liberty. Among these violations were: unreasonable search and seizure, imprisonment without due process and interference with the exercise of free speech and free association.
How, I ask, did the English king’s outrages against the colonists 250 years ago differ from those currently being committed by the U. S. government against its people? When, I ask further, did my government begin to see me as subject to its dictates rather than as the authority behind its actions?
A complacency has settled upon the American people. We haven’t been vigilant about protecting fragile barriers to government intrusion. Edward Snowden showed us what happened while we were careless sentinels of those we vested with the prerogatives of power.
I don’t think it’s too late to act–although desperate measures like the detention of Greenwald’s partner or the flight odyssey of Bolivia’s president startle with the naked display of power. President Obama is hemming and hawing on the NSA spy issue. Stalwart defenders of his policy–Nancy Pelosi, for one– are beginning to use terms like “disturbing” in describing the spy apparatus’ violations.
It’s really up to us now–the people. We’re at a critical juncture and Edward Snowden has put us back in the driver’s seat; information is a powerful weapon.
We, the people, are the targets of spying. We, the voters, don’t vote. We, heirs of an imperfect but workable Constitution, are careless about its integrity. We, who have more to gain and lose than anyone else in this drama, have become passive actors.
We have to step up to the plate or it will be wiped clean before our eyes and the fare we are given back will not be to our liking.