Thursday, October 24, 2013

NSA Snooping Now Pisses Off Germans - As Former Snowden Detractor Recants

Snowden video 2013 10 12
Edward Snowden after receiving WhistleBlower's Award in Moscow.

Well, by the day it get ever more interesting. Now it turns out the Germans are livid about the never ending, no limits, indiscriminate NSA snooping by an "exceptionalist"  country that fancies itself cop of the world and snoop too. Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after receiving information her cellphone may have been monitored, as well as the communications of millions of other Germans.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson has been summoned to meet with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle today - and he will “spell out the position of the German government.” From what I have learned and understood about Germans, given many German friends, it will basically boil down to: "Keep your fucking, snooping eyes and ears out of Deutschland!"

Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German ARD television the alleged surveillance would be “really bad” if confirmed. “The Americans are and remain our best friends, but this is absolutely not right,” he said. The problem with that line is that "best friends" don't open and read the mail of their friends. They respect their privacy instead of pissing all over it. Did the U.S. and NSA really believe they could get away with this shit? Probably, up until Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA mass snooping, when all the Neolib pro-market, war & security whores went batshit crazy - castigating Snowden as a "traitor" when he was fulfilling his duty as a righteous citizen protecting his fellow citizens' 4th amendment rights - which our gov't no longer seems to believe in.

But,  interestingly, a former Snowden detractor, WaPo columnist Richard Cohen - as reported several days ago- has now changed his tune, calling Snowden a legitimate whistle blower, as opposed to the epithet "traitor" when the leaks first appeared. He now understands, like most perceptive and intelligent people, that if it were not for Snowden we wouldn't even be aware of the extent of the snoops' reach or how they violated the most sacred core of our Constitution.

Make no mistake that Germans take intrusive snooping, including by companies, very seriously. They have some of the stiffest laws on the planet as opposed to the laissez-faire,  business suck-up U.S. which allows companies to collect any and everything, including access to Social Security numbers and bank accounts. To give an idea how strict the German are regarding protection of their citizens' privacy they won't allow Google to show homes in assorted cities without blurring the image out. Thus, no clear view is afforded.

All of this latest kerfuffle comes in the wake of other exposures of NSA spying into other leaders' affairs- emails, etc.  Earlier, for example, we learned about NSA phone taps applied to Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto. The other humiliating phone call of the week was on Monday with François Hollande, whose phone was not bugged as far as he knew, but who demanded an explanation for the revelation – once more from the Snowden files – that the NSA had been recording tens of millions of French phone calls a month. The White House was forced to admit that the evidence raised "legitimate questions for our friends and allies".

Before that, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff went on the warpath. Unlike assorted Neoliberal, anti-4th amendment twerps in the U.S., President Rousseff didn't play games blaming Edward Snowden - but rather the dissembling culprits his revelations exposed: the NSA.

She said:

"Without respect for a nation's sovereignty, there is no basis for proper relations among nations,"

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, had been so outraged at American spying-  both on her country and on her personal emails and her personal life- that 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?
Dilma Rousseff UN general assembly
Rousseff addresses the UN and gives the U.S. a piece of her mind on NSA spying

She went on to pointedly note:

"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 against them, or collected and stored for later exploitation. Perhaps even criminalization.

This ought to be a no-brainer. Because to spy on another country (especially one purportedly a "friend") is to display malignant and even paranoid 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.

What is most puzzling is why it is Obama can't get control of these arrogant NSA troglodytes. As wifey, a firm Obama supporter even asked (after the German revelations broke): 'What is this, the tail wagging the dog? He needs to get them under control!'  Indeed.  So either Mr. Obama is a President who himself calls the shots, or a Puppet. Which is it? By his deeds we shall know the answers, never mind the rhetoric- talk is cheap.

Perhaps Mr. Obama would do well to pay attention to President Rousseff's  global rallying cry against what she portrayed as the overweening power of the US security apparatus, in her same  UN address:

 "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.

So, maybe Obama will finally change - and cease blaming Snowden, who he ought to really give another medal to - when he finally ditches the useless exceptionalist meme. It no longer serves any constructive purpose, if it ever did, and is only liable to lead our nation into ever more follies - and a lot more hubris.)

Oh, speaking of hubris, that has emerged in spades following the excuse of an NSA-defender -huckster simpleton (taking the rest of us for simpletons) that "they do it too!". In other words, we need to look the other way because all these other Euro governments are also doing their own snooping on us. But anyone who buys this codswallop is a certified idiot. It's about as dumb as buying into Netanyahu's hand wringing about Iran getting one friggin' nuke when Israel already has 150. Enough to blow the entire Middle East to Armageddon 15 times over. Or the NSA complaining about the Frenchies maybe spying on 10 U.S. emails when the NSA pulls in 70 million from the French! It's the same false equivalence bullshit raised to the power of 10 we've seen in other Neolib PR arenas. As Natasha Lennard has noted on ('You DO it TOO! A Pathetic Defense of NSA Spying' )

"The logic is profoundly flawed, but it’s worth noting, tacitly pervades the ideology undergirding U.S. imperialism. The U.S. has kidnapped, tortured, indefinitely detained and extrajudicially killed individuals around the world under the auspices that there are groups out there who would do the same to Americans if given the chance. And in this time of borderless wars, ill-defined enemy threats, and highly politicized business interests, strict Straussian goodie/baddie lines are hard to apply. “The enemy” could be anywhere, and the “we” that needs protecting is an equally vague referent in current political rhetoric: NSA dragnets evidence that we’re all treated as potential threats by virtue of communicating. )

International diplomacy is, of course, rife with hypocrisy and finger pointing. That supporters of NSA surveillance activities are relying on this as a public defense is illustration of the scant regard given to very legitimate public concerns (in the U.S. and abroad) about the operations of the surveillance state."

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