Sunday, June 23, 2013

Edward Snowden, Freedom and the Media's Manufacture of Meaning

There is no doubt there is a need for fear, or at least anxiety, over our government's secret intrusion into our online personal lives.  Yes the Government of Canada too, not just the United States, is doing this.

Reassurances from those perpetuating this travesty say that the surveillance is only on foreigners, not citizens is hardly reassuring nor very genuine.  Those communications monitorings are ostensibly only on foreigners.  But foreigners connecting with whom?  American citizens is often as not the the answer.  For Homeland security that is what the US spy system is mostly interested, I expect.

This makes the sincerity  of the governments of the United States and Canada reassurances as to who is really being targeted by government invasion of privacy activities kind of, shall we say, "incredulous?" No wonder the USA is having trouble getting these "foreign" nations to cooperate with them in extraditing Snowden.  A collaboration culture is hard to create with these "foreigner" nations, when their citizens and institutions are admittedly being spied on by the America government.

If Snowden is right, and I've seen no official rebuttal yet, those nameless anonymous government operatives who are doing the online surveillance searches of email, cellphone calls etc., they only need a personal confidence rating of 51% that they are not dealing with an American citizen in order to proceed.  That puts a very low bar on standards of reasonable doubt don't you think? Since we don't know what metrics are actually being used to test what is involved in the 51% "confidence" (sic) level, it all seems to be so much manipulative Orwellian double speak.  It make the integrity of surveillance process entirely ridiculous, especially when it to making claims that only foreigners are the targets of this official invasion of privacy practice.

Yes the world is still a dangerous complex place and American soil is not sacrosanct from invasion, even by their own fundamentalists citizens as it turns out. So more than a decade after 9-11 we are still seeing our governments use fear over reason, secrecy over solutions, and, dare I say, fascism over democracy to justify further denial and erosion of personal freedoms.

Freedom!  That great American concept that motivated the G.W Bush government to take aggressive measures and to use freedom as justification for invading Iraq and Afghanistan.  He wanted to give those poor folks the gift of American freedom...through invasion.  It would appear that the great American concept of freedom is what drove Snowden to choose to jeopardize his personal freedom.  He exercised personal freedom and came to a personal judgement, as a matter of democratic principle, when he decided to expose the US government secret abuses of freedom.  He also created a space for that very necessary conversation to take place about the place of personal privacy and freedom for American citizens.  That conversation needs to be open, candid and public, especially so when it has to consider their government's role to protect personal freedoms,....or ignore personal freedoms....or worse yet, abuse them.

The American government is clearly flummoxed about what to do since being "caught" in this secret underhanded system of what appears to be an unprecedented invasions of domestic and foreign personal privacy.  They find the facts are against them.  The law, while not strictly against them, is in serious disrepute.  And so they revert to calling Snowden names like traitor and pathetic gestures like canceling his Passport.

And where is the media in all of this?  Well the Guardian in the UK is doing the job. Check out their coverage. But where is the American media?  I hope this video clip of David Gregory's alamaring questioning Glen Greenwald of the Guardian on Meet the Press is not a representative sample of where mainstream American media is positioning itself in all of this. If so then freedom of the press in the USA is also as good as gone, at least so far as its independent role of being the public's eyes, ears, and sense-makers and narrative makers is concerned.