Monday, June 08, 2015

Snowden DoublePlusUngood

Guest blogging today with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a terrific organization that deserves your support. Why Snowden DoublePlusUngood? Because Orwell predicted all of it. Read on...

It was great to read this Edward Snowden New York Times op-ed—great because the piece is as thoughtful and informative as you’d expect, and even better because it’s an example of Snowden’s continuing ability to raise awareness of the dangers of an unchecked surveillance state. In fact, Snowden has been notably public of late, giving interviews, addressing huge crowds, receiving awards, and otherwise adding to and amplifying the worldwide discussion he catalyzed with his revelations of two years ago (this short video gives an idea of how many people Snowden has been reaching).

It’s interesting to see just how much the US government and its authoritarian backers hate Snowden’s ability to continue to contribute to the mass-surveillance debate. Prosecutors are actually trying to persuade judges to prohibit Snowden’s name being uttered in court (a tactic Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, aptly tweeted as He Who Must Not Be Named). Former Bush 2 White House Press Secretary and Fox News personality Dana Perino, apparently not realizing her Fox colleagues have themselves been trying to land a Snowden interview, protested that “The New York Times op-ed page gives valuable space to a traitor,” and Council on Foreign Relations war enthusiast Max Boot issued a similar complaint (the Boot piece also stands out as a masterpiece of psychological projection). As Jason Leopold has revealed, various lawmakers begged the Defense Intelligence Agency for classified dirt they could use to discredit Snowden. And the government’s use of the Espionage Act, which whistleblower attorney Jesselyn Radack explains has morphed into a strict liability law that precludes defendants from explaining their actions, is itself a deliberate attempt to silence the voices of Snowden and whistleblowers like him.

Even by the standards of an age where a new mass-surveillance law is named The Freedom Act (admittedly, something of an improvement on its mass-surveillance progenitor, The Patriot Act, but still), there’s a lot of Orwell at work here. Protests about Snowden having a public forum are really complaints about Thoughtcrime. Lawmakers trying to smear Snowden are hoping to turn him into Emmanuel Goldstein. The government’s efforts to prohibit even the utterance of Snowden’s name in court, and its use of the Espionage Act itself, are attempts to render Snowden an unperson.

Of course, the entire “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” rubric is itself an internalization of the dangers of Ownlife, aka privacy. Snowden himself...

Read the rest here at Freedom of the Press Foundation.

1 comment:

0x4F said...

Hi Barry.

If I had some change to spare, I'd definitely give to the organization. Now I know there's a bestselling author who's a fan, and as much as I am rooting for Snowden, Assange, Manning and all the other courageous whistleblowers who've been chased into exile by this government... I'd be utterly giddy contributing my Two Dollars to a board headed by John Cusack :)

Keep up the good work! Your titles are definitely on my TBR list!