Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Feinstanding or Merkeling

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has set out to prove just how blatantly, grossly hypocritical the American elite (government figures, corporate executives, pundits, academics) can be. She loudly supported NSA spying programs and, worse, viciously condemned Edward Snowden, charging that he had committed "an act of treason."

Edward Snowden has rightly charged Feinstein with hypocrisy. So, too, has Norman Solomon.

There is a clear, recent precedent for this. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was silent when news broke that the United States had been spying on Germans (and pretty much everybody else). Then it emerged that the Obama-istas had also been monitoring Merkel's own calls . . . for over 10 years. Merkel, previously sanguine about the American Stasi, was upset.

The US, we now know, has been spying on pretty much anything that can utter a sentence. What threat the G8 and G20 summits presented is anybody's guess. But Canadian PM Stephen Harper allowed that, so maybe he knows.

Internet transparency advocate and computer surveillance expert Jacob Appelbaum has detailed, at length, the many ways in which the US spymasters track us. It is very disturbing. And Sen. Ron Wyden has said, effectively, "We ain't seen nuthin' yet." Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and others who really know what is in the complete body of leaked NSA material have echoed Wyden. Jacob Appelbaum also led a Der Spiegel series on the NSA's spy kit.

Political theorist David Runciman argues that hypocrisy is part of what it is to be human, and especially part of what it is to be a politician. Witness, for example, the American and European hysteria over the Russian invasion ("incursion," in the language of American media) of the Crimean Peninsula. This is an act of "aggression," an "outrage," a "violation of international law." Israel, of course, has done far worse in the West Bank and Gaza for nearly 50 years. (To my knowledge the Russians have not killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians or "ethnically cleansed" hundreds of thousands.) And Russia has used Israel's excuse: It's defending its people. The US could hardly claim that (though it did try) in Iraq (twice) or Grenada or Nicaragua or Chile, or in any of a dozen or more other places that have enjoyed American "generosity" over the past 60 years.


Some resources (to be updated):

Jacob Appelbaum on the frightening array of technologies used by the NSA, CIA and others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vILAlhwUgIU

Applebaum on NSA hacking unit and, believe it or not, the NSA's catalog of spy gear.

The Intercept. The new online journalism project of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and others.

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