Edward Snowden and the Emerging Police State

Global Research News Hour episode 33

orwell3

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” (George Orwell, from the novel ’1984′)

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There has been extensive reporting in the mainstream and alternative media with regard to the leaked information about NSA surveilllance of hundreds of millions of people in dozens of countries around the world. These leaks came through NSA technical contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Guardian Newspaper was allowed access to Snowden’s documentation and has disclosed this information in a series of articles beginning June 6.

Snowden disclosed, among other revelations, that the NSA was clandestinely accessing data including email content, live chats, search history and file transfers through major internet companies through a surveillance program known as PRISM. NSA can access this information DIRECTLY without a court order and without requesting it from the service providers and notably without the consent or knowledge of the users.

The companies implicated in this disclosure, including google, apple and facebook, span the vast majority of email, video and other global communications networks. [1]

PRISM slide crop

Snowden’s leaks about PRISM were accompanied by disclosures about other surveillance programs.

Boundless Informant, for one, counts and categorizes by country billions of pieces of so-called ‘metadata’ from phone and email communications. Metadata, however, does not actually reveal the actual content of such communications.[2]

Another program, TEMPORA, run by the NSA’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) gathers information by tapping into the world’s fibre-optic cables which transmit much of the world’s internet and phone communications. [3]

These revelations follow those of a number of high profile NSA whistle blowers including Thomas Drake, Russ Tice and William Binney.

Given the power and potential for such programs and the technology that enables it, it is natural to want to examine the implications on personal liberties. How have the rights of dissent, freedom of association, freedom of speech, etc been jeopardized by the rise of covert surveillance within America and among its partners in Canada and abroad?

How broadly does the US define its ‘enemies’ which this apparatus was presumably developed to thwart?

Tom Burghardt, contributor to Covert Action Quarterly and the website Antifascist Calling has for years been studying and writing about domestic spying and the rise of the Police State. He provides us with his thoughts about the Snowden revelations in the first half hour of the programme.

Stephen Gowans, the Ottawa-based activist and author of the blog What’s Left, puts the Snowden disclosures about domestic spying within the Canadian context and outlines how police state tactics in general are a manifestation of the nature of the State itself.

 Julie Lévesque is an independent journalist and Associate Editor at Global Research. She examines related media stories currently on the site that are not getting enough examination in the mainstream or even much of the alternative media.

 

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

References

1) Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, Friday 7 June 2013, “NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others”; http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

2) Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 June 2013, “Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data”; http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/08/nsa-boundless-informant-global-datamining

3) Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, et al, Friday 21 June 2013 , “GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications”; http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa

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