Exposing the Turnkey Tyranny

by NOZOMI HAYASE

Edward Snowden, the leaker of the National Security Agency top-secret PRISM surveillance program has voluntarily stepped into the public limelight. The 29-year-old former technical contractor for the CIA and system administrator for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton had a good family, girlfriend and comfortable living in Hawaii. What made him risk this privileged life to be on the run or possibly end up in Federal prison?

“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” the young whistleblower told The Guardian newspaper. His day-to-day insider knowledge about the conduct of the NSA led him to the conclusion that the NSA surveillance poses “an existential threat to democracy.” He related how he was motivated for the public good and not for personal gain; “If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich …..” He continued, “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to … My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

In the same spirit of statements made by army whistleblower Bradley Manning, Snowden wanted this crucial information to be publicly available so people could make informed decisions about what is being done in their name by their government.

At his court-martial proceedings, Bradley Manning testified about his motivation behind the largest leak of classified information in history. He said: “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.”

Snowden claimed he had examined the documents closely to assure that they are clearly in the public interest and will likely not harm anyone. His whistleblowing, and furthermore his courageous act of identifying himself to the public proves how the Obama administration’s unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers has not scared people from acting out of conscience to reveal illicit actions of the government behind closed doors

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has also been a target of the US government and now been in asylum at the London Ecuadorian embassy for nearly a year, spoke of his positive outlook in the future of politics. In a prerecorded speech at a Veterans for Peace event in April this year, he spoke about how the newest generation has grown up with the internet and that many of them appear to be willing to defend the values of transparency and privacy, even at great risk to themselves:

“These young people under the age of 30 are the people that are going into the military, the people going into the CIA and intelligence agencies … They’re also forming the political base on which decisions are made.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yB3n9fu-rM&w=560&h=315]

Snowden spoke of his own action; “I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made.” Standing tall today is such a member of this younger generation that has been shaped by the Internet Age. Like the late Aaron Swartz who dedicated his life to the virtues of sharing and a free Internet, Snowden also regards the Internet as “the most important invention in all of human history.” He supports organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and TOR, a technology that enables online anonymity.

In his interview with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Snowden spoke of why he was sacrificing his comfortable life; “I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Regarding these brave acts on behalf of the public, Greenwald tweeted that ‘courage is contagious’. Only hours after his initial statement, the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithEdwardSnowden trended in the US as people around the world voice their support for this young whistleblower. In New York, a rally for his support was already in the works.

When he learned about Snowden, the former United States military analyst and whistleblower that took down Nixon, Daniel Ellsbergcalled Snowden a hero, saying he had been waiting for someone like him for 40 years. Jesselyn Radack, a former justice department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters Snowden has become “one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history.”

On Sunday evening, member of Icelandic Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir and executive director of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative Smari McCarthy issued a statement of support for Snowden and noted they were working toward granting him asylum.

Snowden will surely go down in history as one of America’s most influential whistleblowers, along with Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. But, as he himself stated in his interview, it is important that he not be thrust into the media spotlight, as that may take the focus away from the content of his disclosures. It is not the messenger but the message that is vital for sparking lasting change.

Snowden’s damning evidence of the NSA’s surveillance activities clearly showed that the Obama Administration has been collecting blanket surveillance on nearly every electronic communication in the US, regardless of the Constitution protections of privacy for those not suspected of a crime. Snowden ominously cautioned that this will likely turn out badly, as any leader in the future would only need to claim a new dangerous threat and no one could stop them from taking that last step. He warned that this will be a “turnkey tyranny”.

This man’s unvarnished courage has revealed the tip of the iceberg of an outrageous abuse of power and trashing of the Fourth Amendment. He did this by handing the evidence straight to the people. It is now up to the people to choose; to resist this dangerous authoritarian approach and turn the key for a new generation of democracy, or allow the world to descend into tyranny.

Nozomi Hayase is a contributing writer to Culture Unplugged, and a global citizen blogger, at Journaling Between Worlds. She can be reached at: nozomimagine@gmail.com

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is a writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movements.  Find her on twitter @nozomimagine

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”