I watched Edward Snowden’s interview by Glen Greenwald in Hong Kong again tonight and was struck by his closing words: “There will be a time when policies change. Because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state is policy, [NOT] law. a new leader will be elected , they’ll flip the switch, and say that because of the crisis, the new dangers in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority… more power… and there will be nothing the people will be able to do at that point to oppose it, and it will be turnkey tyranny.”
It’s in the last minute and a half of this video.
Now for your examination, a small item you probably have not heard anything about from the talking heads on the major TV news shows. It’s a policy change. Just the kind of change Snowden is talking about. They’ve kept this change quiet, like so much that happens within the confines of the national security state. By making a few subtle changes to a regulation in the U.S. Code, (32 CFR part 182), titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” the military has quietly granted itself the ability to police the streets of the United States without obtaining prior local or state consent, upending a precedent that has been in place for more than two centuries. The linked article appeared in the Long Island Press on May 14, 2013.
Knowledge is power. J. Edgar Hoover, the father of the FBI, is known to have kept secret surveillance files on various public figures which he used to influence political activity. He is also known to have used the power of his office in America’s domestic spy agency to harass political dissenters. Mr. Snowden has said that he personally had the capability to read anyone’s digital communications including the President of the United States. There have been unconfirmed reports that the current sitting POTUS has had his files accessed before he ever assumed office. Were a truly nefarious person to ever hold a position of power within the “defense/intelligence” industry, a man who crosses the line between public and private sector interests with little regard for the well being of the majority of Americans, it would not be a huge leap to extend the potential list of subjects to Supreme Court Justices, Congressmen, Senators, and on down the line of our political and elite classes.
That would be the same political class that currently has a 10% approval rating, (in keeping with the percentage of the US population they serve so well), and which never seems to meaningfully address certain issues that have the support of large majorities of Americans. It is not difficult to reach a conclusion that were someone with such a proclivity and will, to reach such a position of power within the national “defense/intelligence” community, a massive abrogation of the democratic system would not be far behind. Anyone who purports such would be branded a conspiracy theorist. And there will never be anyone to investigate the theory of a conspiracy as, if it exists, it all takes place behind the opaque screen of national security.
Edward Snowden left the United States in June 2013 for Hong Kong in possession of state secrets that could bear directly upon the changes made to CFR 32 part 182. The unrest in the country, and the developed world, has been heightened by the banking crisis of 2008, which sent the world’s economies into downward spirals brought on by banks working within a regulatory framework that has become little more than a joke on the American people. Unemployment is up. Incomes are down. Savings have been hit hard. Home values have dropped. Retirement funds have been halved. Pensions have been raided by corporations to line their own pockets. The government has done little to protect or improve these conditions which affect all Americans, while bailing out the biggest bank’s bad bets at 100 cents on the dollar. There are, in short, a lot of reasons for this unrest.
The revelations of Edward Snowden have added to 72% of the people‘s discontent, as those disclosures show that the same state that saved the banks at taxpayer expense, has likely been accessing everything we have written or said; anything digitally transmitted in the form of an Email, telephone call, or otherwise published online. These are are spooks. They labeled Ed Snowden a narcissist right out of the box. Ask yourselves who the real narcissists are here. Is it the 30 year old techno geek who spilled the beans on their massive spy operation? Or are they the faceless organizations of the CIA, the NSA, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton, and the myriad other corporations and geniuses that know only the relentless quest for the extermination of their enemies and the acquisition of power? This is the amalgam of government and business that has been plotting the way forward for the country, if not mankind for the past 30 years, (at minimum). Their business is war, and their currency is power. So we should investigate and think about what this all means. In the paranoid world of spookdom, a classic double negation con game could mean that they want us to flip on them, possibly using agents provocateurs to accelerate a peaceful protest into something more violent. To create just the sort of emergency that Snowden noted at the end of his video, and that would allow military intervention without state or local approval via CFR32 part 182. Such an emergency that could justify the military takeover of at least portions of the United States and would cow most Americans, convincing them to crawl back in the tortoise shell of variety shows and Swanson frozen dinners.
Sounds far-fetched, yes? No? Personally, I think Snowden is a legitimate whistle blower. A concerned citizen who has payed a heavy price for the service he has done us all. That doesn’t mean the Surveillance State will play it one way or another. They will play it the way they see the most advantage. Indeed, following Ed Snowden’s revelations, we must ask ourselves what is this State? Is it the conglomeration of the Judicial, Executive, and Congressional branches of government described in our Constitution and school textbooks, or has it morphed?
Currently, the scarcity of oil is becoming obvious to the most fervent believers in undiscovered oil reserves, as pump prices rise to just what the majority of Americans will pay. The government drags its feet on creating a real energy policy that looks to the future, and will provide a viable way forward. As the population of the planet inches toward 8 billion human souls, the food supply, now largely in the control of about 5 corporations will become scarce as well. Resources will become scarce, jobs will become scarce, income inequality will grow. People will become hungry, and as long as you play your part in keeping the machine running, you will probably have enough food and fuel to eat and stay warm on most nights. But not all of us will be able to partake. Some examples will undoubtedly need to be made. There will be many who will not meet that criteria of inclusion, whatever it morphs into. These people will be hungry and cold. One day their hunger will begin to act out, trying to claim a part of what was once their country, their world, for themselves. Then, the troops can be called in.
It may not happen for another 5 years, or even 40, but given our current trajectory, the time will come. If nothing changes, as Snowden indicated was his greatest fear, and that time comes when troops are mobilized, those with the means to establish control will do so for the benefit of the corporate citizens that have already wrested control of the planet from the people. They will include a portion of society which still enjoys adequate food and shelter, (and if lucky, a few luxuries). The lower socioeconomic segment will be the object of the State’s discipline, and have little other than enslavement or incarceration to offer in exchange for clemency.
We’ve witnessed how the security state swept up the Occupy movement and placed its leaders in a Bell jar of electronic scrutiny. The NSA was aware of plots to execute OWS leaders, but despite having a mandate to prevent crimes in progress or future crimes that their spying revealed, they did not inform these OWS leaders of the danger. In an actual insurrection, we can only assume such will be met with similar police tactics, only this time it would be the actual army advancing on the people in accordance with CFR 32, part 182, and with all their technological bells, whistles, and instruments of destruction. When that time comes, it would be quite simple to “push” a crowd of protesters into the kind of disorganized reaction we’ve seen too many times before in the United States. One need only look at the list of riots in the US, to see that they have fallen from the levels of civil unrest during the 1960s and 1970s. Civil unrest, at least as measured in riots has fallen sharply in the last two decades of the previous century, and now seems to be on the rise again. To the Occupy movement’s credit, incidents of violence have been kept to a minimum, however even so two incidents in the Occupy camp made it onto the wiki list of civil unrest in 2011. This has not escaped the notice of the Powers that lie behind the Security State. They are well aware of the level of discontent that permeates our society today. The Army has blocked access to The Guardian’s website on military bases. There is no upside for the covert agenda in having its soldiers question the righteousness of the orders they receive. They are concerned, but are feeling relatively secure that all the pieces are in place for the status quo to resist any unwanted changes to the system that is functioning quite well by their own parameters, funneling money and wealth to the upper socioeconomic tiers of society.
There is still time to change this scenario. It will take work. It will take people turning off the glowing LCD and plasma screens scattered around their homes. It will take a lot of people paying attention, even as our mad leaders fiddle while society crumbles beneath them. We need thinkers who can visualize their way through the complex networks of subterfuge and disinformation which are and will be spoon fed to us through a media that has itself become drunk on its proximity to power. We will need to talk with our friends and neighbors to educate them to the dangers we face. We will need courage, as Edward Snowden has shown courage by showing us that the emperor indeed has no clothes. We will need persistence. Intelligence. Not the kind referred to in the acronym of the CIA. Something smarter. And kinder. Edward Snowden’s revelations may have accelerated us along the road to the probable outcome I describe here.
The power behind the National Security State will meanwhile be working at cross-purposes to those of us who would change the way we do so much of our national business behind closed doors. It does not serve their purposes to have the bright light of public examination shine on the convoluted plans they conjure. We must change the dialogue on security in a way which will in turn, change the national security state in which we find ourselves living, while we still can. We need to do this now. If we do not, as Snowden has warned, it will likely be too late. If we do not, we may find these theories of conspiracy our new reality, and what does the security state do with a nation of conspiracy theorists?
I’m not saying this will come to pass, but if the pieces fall into place for those operating behind the cloak of “national security” the way has been laid. As a nation, we may have already been waylaid. For those of you who believe that it can’t happen here, I can only ask you to wake up.
This blog has been cross-posted at dailykos.