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Saturday, 8 February 2014

The New Dark Age

Comment: Actually, there were many of us who were also arguing and "railing" that such "lurking" had been present for quite sometime. You had to connect the dots by going back to the 1960s and 70s reports and the evolution of ECHELON,  not least MAIN CORE and the evidence from Danny Casolaro But hey, let's not quibble.



For years, this space has been arguing – railing, really – that the ideological and legal currents unleashed by America’s response to the 9/11 attacks have been leading us down the road to dictatorship: see here, here, here, and here. Back in those halcyon days, circa 2007 and much earlier, it was easy to dismiss such charges as the mental effluvia of the somewhat overwrought libertarian imagination: after all, if we’re headed for an authoritarian order of Orwellian proportions, then where are the Thought Police?

What we didn’t know was that they were lurking in the woodwork all along – spying on us, recording our phone calls, scooping up our emails, and tracking our every move. We didn’t know about the National Security Agency’s data dragnet: we hadn’t heard of PRISM, or any of the other programs that allow government snoops to sniff out dissidents and other "subversives" who might be "linked" to "terrorism."

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

I take very cold comfort in having been right about this, because, for one, it’s actually much worse than I thought it would be. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, and the government’s reaction, we have an ominous new development in the works, one I never foresaw: the criminalization of journalism.

The Washington Post reported, the other day, on an exchange between FBI Director James Comey and his Republican interlocutor, Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, reproducing the relevant and most striking part in full. The occasion was Tuesday’s session of a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on "Worldwide Threats," with Rogers questioning Comey on the Snowden documents:

"REP. ROGERS: You – there have been discussions about selling of access to this material to both newspaper outlets and other places. Mr. Comey, to the best of your knowledge, is fencing stolen material – is that a crime?


ROGERS: And would be selling the access of classified material that is stolen from the United States government – would that be a crime?

COMEY: It would be. It’s an issue that can be complicated if it involves a news-gathering and news promulgation function, but in general, fencing or selling stolen property is a crime.

ROGERS: So if I’m a newspaper reporter for – fill in the blank – and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?

COMEY: Right, if you’re a newspaper report[er] and you’re hocking stolen jewelry, it’s still a crime."
You can see where this is going, but let’s stop for a moment and check Comey’s premises: who has stolen what from whom? This is the real question at the heart of the debate over the Snowden revelations, and as usual the inhabitants of that Bizarro World known as Washington, D.C., have turned reality on its head. It was Snowden who blew the whistle on the real thieves: the NSA and the government officials who presided over the wholesale hijacking of our privacy in brazen violation of the Fourth Amendment. If anyone is "hocking" "stolen property" it is the government, which has contracted out its illegal surveillance programs to private vendors who profit from Washington’s crimes against the American people. 

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