Recent legislative theatricals in the US Congress once again brought the issue of mass surveillance into the corporate media headlines and with it the continuing hype around Edward Snowden. Ever since Snowden made his revelations, his supporters have claimed his actions constitute a heroic defence of fundamental civil rights in the United States and countries of the European Union.
The latest corporate media reports argue that Snowden has been largely responsible for a major change in Western country legislation defending fundamental civil rights. But the reality behind this extraordinary campaign of exaggeration and illusion looks very different in the light of actual events and a critical look at their media diffusion.
Whatever Edward Snowden’s own intentions may have been, his revelations have been exploited by the psychological warfare apparatus of the United States government and its allies. The media and political management of his revelations have helped the US government consolidate and legitimize existing covert mass surveillance practices in the United States and overseas.
USA Today reported on June 2nd, “The Senate overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to end the controversial bulk collection of the phone data of millions of Americans who have no ties to terrorism.” The USA Today report included a tweet from President Obama “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.”
However, Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any President before him. So it seems rational to infer that he will sign off on what is nothing more than a procedural administrative tweak. Let’s face it: substantially, it changes nothing. Even the New York Times reported the day before the vote “Even if Congress ultimately restricts domestic surveillance, it will leave intact the vast majority of the post-Sept. 11 programs authorized by two presidents.”
Numerous writers have correctly noted that the new law merely places the formality of a routine administrative procedure – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) tribunal – between the US government’s spies and the mass data they previously collected unhindered. The corporate media and non-governmental Edward Snowden industry spin this as a vindication of Snowden’s revelations.
But Edward Snowden’s support network is almost completely compromised, one way or another, by most of its members’ relations with the the political and corporate establishment of the US and its NATO allies. For example, film-maker Laura Poitras in 2012 received a US$500,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, whose then President Robert Gallucci was previously a very high level strategic adviser to the US government.
Glenn Greenwald has been the main proselytizer managing what in many ways is a Snowden cult. Greenwald moved swiftly from his work managing Edward Snowden’s material for the Guardian to working for billionaire Pierre Omidyaar, whose own business empire has corporate links to the US government intelligence network, in particular Booz Allen Hamilton, for whom Snowden used to work.
Edward Snowden himself is an espionage professional, so what he says or does should certainly not be taken at face value. That said, it does seem clear that far from having radical progressive politics he is very much a US patriot with staunch libertarian views, not at all opposed to US foreign policy as such.
While the North American and European progressives who promote Edward Snowden congratulate themselves on their commitment to human rights, almost everywhere else in the world their human rights agenda has been made to look hollow, self-serving and hypocritical. The psy-warfare exploitation of Edward Snowden’s revelations categorically confirms the truism that human rights concerns derive from political, not humanitarian concerns, as events in Palestine, Libya, Syria, Ukraine demonstrate
In Libya, among many other even more extreme examples, hundreds of former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya have been tortured and abused prior to the sinister farce of judicial process under the control of ISIL terrorists who make a mockery of Islam. Those Libyans, including Saif Gaddhafi, face the death sentence. But Western human rights advocates have nothing to say about these phony trials or their governments’ destruction of Libya because they were cheerleaders for it.
In Palestine, the UN General Secretary has just decided not to include the Israeli government on the list of governments harming children through armed conflict, despite overwhelming evidence including the repeated genocidal massacres in Gaza. Western human rights advocates tend to play down this kind of shameful, indefensible decision and other examples like it, because they fear zionist accusations of “anti-semitism”.
In Ukraine, the fascist regime there has overseen the murder of dozens of journalists, like Oles Buzyna, and anti-regime activists like Oleg Kalashnikov under cover of almost complete silence from the US government and its European Union allies. Western human rights organizations too have next-to-nothing to say beyond ritual denunciations because they are reluctant to seem “pro-Russian”.
In Syria, as in Libya, Western human rights organizations and liberal and progressive NATO country media outlets have vociferously promoted one falsehood after another, that government military arbitrarily murdered large numbers of “peaceful demonstrators”, that “Assad” used chemical weapons in Ghouta or that “Assad” deliberately targets civilians.
It is hard to believe mere coincidence leads the same corporate media and human rights networks to promote Edward Snowden’s revelations ostensibly against government policy, alongside the propaganda line of those same governments targeting Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and China and so on. That only adds up if one goes to sleep each night listening to the fairy tale of “objective reporting” as read by the BBC or CBS, or Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – an organization funded (and founded) by George Soros, the same man who destabilized the Ukraine and is a close associate to President Petró Poroshenko.
Edward Snowden’s revelations can be looked at in any number of ways, some more plausible than others. A credible view on the available evidence to date is that the material he has made available has been managed to legitimize long standing covert practice by Western intelligence gathering agencies while also providing a handy human rights and democracy alibi to Western media.
Western government support for their corporate oligarchies following the crash of 2008 compounded Western media embarrassment at their governments’ well-documented human rights abuses, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Guantanamo and the US corporate industrial penal system. The Snowden revelations have been exploited by Western corporate media so as to offer a theatrical human rights and democracy distraction from past and current crimes by the US government and its NATO allies.
Those governments are guilty of murdering many hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya, as well as more current support for genocidal Nazi militias in Ukraine and for takfiri terrorists across the Arab world and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, they are also determined enemies of the emancipatory processes of change in Latin America and the Caribbean, targeting especially the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
Now the same corporate media and human rights networks that attack Venezuela and its allies are falsely reporting, with all the unison of an accomplished choir, an important civil rights victory thanks to Edward Snowden. That should give decisive pause for thought, because by now few will disagree that the underlying reality of the management of Edward Snowden’s revelations is very different from their superficial appearance.
Psy-warfare and NATO Country Terrorism – Ukraine, Venezuela, Snowden
Snowden: Overlooking the Obvious
Inculcating Stupidity: Syria and Edward Snowden
Reflections on the category “journalism” and the revelations by Edward Snowden
Snowden: Behind NATO’s propaganda outlet for progressives – the Guardian’s board members
Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out and Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions
The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story