Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Spy Who Wouldn’t Spy

The  simplicity of the US constitution’s fourth amendment is as refreshing as it is clear.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons   houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation  and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

That amendment, along with the rest of the constitution, was twice sworn to be upheld by President Barack Obama.

That is just one aspect of the increasing Kafkaesque episode playing out before us.

Edward Snowden  is  facing charges of spying. That was his job, that’s what his American employers hired him to do.

It was his refusal to spy on Americans that led him on the trek to Ecuador and the threat of legal sanction. He should, by rights, be charged with not spying.

The defenders of the spying state insist it was only meta data.. not actual content. In other words, communication records and networks were being monitored rather than what was said.

But a sigh of relief would be misplaced. There is no comfort from the “we are not listening to content” argument. There is no need to listen to content. It is time consuming, laborious and not terribly informative.

Far better, from the spooks point of view, is that meta data kills two birds with one stone. It saves time and this is the clincher…it provides a clearer and bigger picture.

If you ring your bank manager the overwhelming likelihood is that you are discussing money , not say, the weather un less you need a loan for a rainy day.

Besides content can be misleading. Language, accents, laughter, coughing, even bad lines, can garble messages.

And deniability is a big plus. It permits the spooks to say, with more than a grain of truth, we never listen to the content. This allows the veneer of oversight to remain. Lawmakers who do not have a clue about the technology (because it is secret) ask questions not to enlighten but to obfuscate.

What the spooks don’t say is that there was never any need to eavesdrop on content.

Spy agencies know that words do not betray us, actions do. It is not what we are saying that interests them so much as who we are talking to.

Once you know the latter, the former poses little challenge.

But of course, there is always the argument that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about. Only the guilty will be afraid on non-stop surveillance.

Many sectors of civil society have a legitimate right to hide certain facts but are not terrorists. Battered wives are just one example. They need safe sanctuary. Nobody would dispute Nigella Lawson’s right to privacy following recent events. Why then deny legitimate privacy to others.

Besides denying people their privacy, on such a scale,  in the US it is unconstituional. Those who have broken the constitution are the very ones demanding the person who exposed their criminality be locked up.

Kafka would have relished this.

TOM CLIFFORD can be reached at tclifford@praguepost.com

 

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
Zhivko Illeieff
Addiction and Microtargeting: How “Social” Networks Expose us to Manipulation
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What is Truth?
Michael Doliner
Were the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a Mistake?
Victor Grossman
Cassandra Calls
Ralph E. Shaffer
Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Ended Differently?
Vanessa Cid
Our Everyday Family Separations
Walaa Al Ghussein
The Risks of Being a Journalist in Gaza
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal and Treachery—The Extremism of Moderates
James Munson
Identity Politics and the Ruling Class
P. Sainath
The Floods of Kerala: the Bank That Went Under…Almost
Ariel Dorfman
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
Joe Emersberger
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Assault on Human Rights and Judicial Independence
Ed Meek
White Victimhood: Brett Kavanaugh and the New GOP Brand
Andrew McLean, MD
A Call for “Open Space”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail