Terror Bytes: Edward Snowden and the Architecture of Oppression

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/_20130612/

By Amy Goodman
Jun 12, 2013

Edward Snowden revealed himself this week as the whistleblower responsible for perhaps the most significant release of secret government documents in U.S. history. The former CIA staffer and analyst for the private intelligence consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton spoke to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman in Hong Kong, providing convincing evidence that the U.S. government, primarily the National Security Agency, is conducting massive, unconstitutional surveillance globally, and perhaps most controversially, on almost all, if not all, U.S. citizens.

The chorus of establishment condemnation was swift and unrelenting. Jeffrey Toobin, legal pundit, quickly blogged that Snowden is “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” New York Times columnists chimed in, with Thomas Friedman writing, “I don’t believe that Edward Snowden, the leaker of all this secret material, is some heroic whistle-blower.” His colleague David Brooks engaged in speculative psychoanalysis of Snowden, opining, “[t]hough obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college.”

Snowden’s educational path has attracted significant attention. U.S. senators oh-so-gently questioned NSA Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander and others at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, including liberal Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, echoing Brooks’ incredulity that someone with a GED could possibly hoodwink the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus. Alexander confessed, “In the IT arena, in the cyber arena, some of these people have skills to operate networks. That was his job for the most part; he had great skills in the area. The rest of it you’ve hit on the head. We do need to go back and look at the processes – where we went wrong.”

Legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg countered the criticism, writing, “In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material—and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an ‘executive coup’ against the U.S. Constitution.”

Snowden’s historic leak revealed what he calls an “architecture of oppression”—a series of top-secret surveillance programs that go far beyond what has been publicly known to date. The first was an order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court requesting a division of the phone giant Verizon to hand over “all call detail records” for calls from the U.S. to locations abroad, or all calls within the U.S., including local calls. In other words, metadata for every phone call that Verizon Business Network Services processed was to be delivered to the NSA on a daily basis. Another document was a slide presentation revealing a program dubbed “PRISM,” which allegedly empowers NSA snoops access to all the private data stored by Internet giants like Microsoft, AOL, Skype, Google, Apple and Facebook, including email, video chats, photos, files transfers and more.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/_20130612/

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