by P. David Gardner
As reporters continue to dillegently pore through ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaked documents, one thing has become crystal clear: your government is bald-faced lying to you.
It may be old news, but it is news often worth repeating, especially since most Americans seem pretty nonplussed by the devastating fact that every word they utter over a phone, every action on the Internet, is recorded by a massive complex of computers owned by their government.
Privacy? What does that word even mean any more?
When Snowden first reached out to Guardian reporter Glen Greenwald back in December of 2012, he may not have fully realized the entire scope of the hundreds of thousands of secret documents that he had copied off of NSA computers and onto a USB removable thumb drive. Chances are he glanced at a portion of them, but it is doubtful that even he had time to pore over them with the scrutiny they truly deserved.
When the news hit in June, 2013, it was like a thunderbolt from the sky. By then, Snowden was somewhat safely ensconsed in a hotel room in Hong Kong, soon to be whisked away to temporary safety in Russia, the only country that would take him. When the revelations of the true extent of the spying came out in a series of articles published by The Guardian, Snowden was immediately fired by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, but it was too late. The "damage" of transparency had already been done.
Government officials quickly moved to denounce Snowden as a traitor, and to deny everything. NSA officials claimed that the information collected was "metadata" only, which not only didn't identify who was making the phone call, text or email that they were spying on, but their massive computer farm did not even store the content of said information gathered.
Well, time has told us all that they were lying. Not only was metadata not the only thing being stored, much of the information gathered was being shared widely around the world with other spy agencies, ostensibly to alert those foreign governments to possible terrorist activity.
But many suspected that a lot of salacious and damning information was shared as well, and that turned out to be true. Intimate correspondence by email or chat between separated loved ones. Revealing selfies taken on cell phone and sent, supposedly privately, to partners or spouses. Posts made to Internet forums. All collated and matched up to make for quite revealing profiles on American citizens.
And still, most of the population of the United States remain as passive as a bleating sheep grazing on a midwest hillside. Oh sure, there have been small outbursts of spoken and written outrage over the past few years, but by and large these get quickly digested, barely noted and then tossed aside as yesterday's news. Citizens by and large blink their eyes as if in the glare of an oncoming freight train, eagerly drinking the kool-aid from their government that says "this is all necessary to get those nasty, dangerous terrorists!"
Is it, really?
Oh, and by the way, Jim and Jenna, I hope you weren't doing anything too kinky on that wedding night!