Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Brazilian Prez Tells It Like It Is Re: NSA Spying- and American 'Above the Law' Exceptionalism
Dilma Rousseff addresses the UN and gives the U.S. a piece of her mind on NSA spying.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, speaking this morning at the United Nations, delivered a merciless indictment of spying by the NSA on behalf of the United States. Unlike assorted Neoliberal, anti-4th amendment twerps in the U.S., President Roussef didn't play games blaming Edward Snowden - but rather the dissembling culprits his revelations exposed: the NSA.
"Without respect for a nation's sovereignty, there is no basis for proper relations among nations,"
This ought to be a no-brainer. Because to spy on another country is to display malignant distrust of the spied -on nation. It therefore undermines polity, as well as civility, and in the process destroys any potential for normal relations or mutual respect. I would advance the same regarding the relation between a state and its citizens. If the former intrudes and spies on its people, then it mistrusts them at the core, and the citizen - knowing this - has no choice but to mistrust the state.
Dilma Rousseff added that: "Brazil knows how to protect itself. Brazil ... does not provide shelter to terrorist groups. We are a democratic country."
The Brazilian president, has been so outraged at American spying- both on her country and on her personal emails and her personal life, she canceled a state dinner with President Obama. Good for her. She isn't two-faced but consistent. Her privacy was seriously violated, as U.S. citizens' privacy has been, so why should she be seen to be accepting of it, by agreeing to a state dinner - for simple pompous display?
Alas, too many dumb Americans - brainwashed by the corporate media - will perceive this simply as a tiff or rift between Brazil and the U.S., missing the larger point - that THEY are having their heads pissed on by the NSA too, and ought to be equally outraged as Dilma Rousseff. Indeed, President Rousseff highlighted this very thing when she said:
"Without the right of privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion, and so there is no actual democracy."
In other words, people denied this right - by NSA intrusiveness - via XKeyscore, PRISM or whatever, are inhabiting a Potemkin democracy. They have no true freedom of speech because they can't know how their (spied and mass-grabbed) speech is being used. I also noted this in a previous blog on the 4th amendment, after quoting it:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
In other words, the NSA MASS-grabbing of data violates directly the 4th amendment, and yeah, I'm as much a stickler about the 4th as the gun people are about the 2nd.
As I noted, "secure in one’s person, house, papers, effects” implies PRIVACY! These are after all MY private papers, my private effects, my house, etc. If an inherent right to privacy was a myth then by all accounts being secure in one’s person, papers, effects wouldn’t matter. Hell, let the whole freakin’ world see ‘em! This is why in a fascist dictatorship “personal effects” don’t exist. “Personal papers” has no meaning. The state has full monopoly, de facto ownership on whatever the person has, even his own body. Hence, in fascist dictatorships, such as existed in Nazi Germany, all personal effects, papers could be seized by the Nazis on a whim or remote suspicion - under the Reich Laws. A fundamental right to privacy, meanwhile, insists there exist bona fide entities that one can uniquely own, e.g. papers, effects – including photos or what not- that are private. Without this fundamental right, then, “personal papers, effects” has no meaning hence the 4th amendment is meaningless.
This is exactly what President Rousseff's point was, but it likely sailed over most Americans' heads - if they heard or saw it at all- and was met with smirking cynicism by our own pols. (Who probably still have a hard- on to put Snowden in chains for revealing the criminal acts of the state spy system) As The Guardian also noted:
"Rousseff's angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden."
In a global rallying cry against what she portrayed as the overweening power of the US security apparatus, Rousseff went on to say (ibid.):
"Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country."
I again trace the malignancy and desecration of international law of which she speaks to the false belief in American exceptionalism. It is only such exceptionalism which feeds the insane meme that one country is superior somehow to all other nations, and can therefore do whatever the hell it wants - and follow no international norms.
It's the same irrational delusion that fuels the conviction the U.S. is some kind of global policeman - entitled to flog any "misbehaving" nation with a 'Pax Americana' drone or cruise missile attack based on whatever pretext it wants, or none. Because it views itself as "exceptional" - meaning above the law- then it has no need to obey any laws other than those it creates itself out of its false beliefs of hegemony and imperialism.
Needless to say, Washington's efforts to soothe Brazil have all been for naught. Why be soothed if you know in advance nothing will change and the spying will continue? It's a waste of time. Rousseff then went on to aver (ibid.):
"Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.
The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained. Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbor terrorist groups,"
She then called on the UN to develop "a new global system" to govern the internet. This is all well and good, but so long as a superpower with too much heft and hubris is around that believes its warrant is global control, not even that will protect against incursions. The only thing that might work is a powerful countervailing force to offset U.S. exceptionalist hegemony- and, unless aliens land from Tau Ceti, I see nothing on the horizon to rein in American imperialists.