Pardon Snowden Now

Last week the U. S. Court of Appeals of for the Ninth Circuit declared that the NSA’s blanket surveillance programs targeting Americans’ phone records are unlawful.

This comes fully seven years after Edward Snowden revealed the existence of these programs and was forced to flee the United States as a whistle blower with a glowing target on his forehead.

What Snowden did was to reveal, at great personal risk, a galling rupture in the fabric of American civic life. He pulled back the hallowed curtain of “national security” and showed a vast machinery of government activity that not only systematically violates our Fourth Amendment rights to be “secure in our persons and our papers,” but also deliberately severed governmental conduct from its primary function as a guardian of the populace. If you have any doubt as to how relevant this is to today’s emerging landscape of contact tracing—and how this will impact you personally—you ought to reconsider recent events in light of the history of how such encroachments have become normalized.

Snowden demonstrated how every call, every keystroke on our private devices is captured, processed, analyzed and sold to government contractors whose boards are populated by active and former intelligence community grandees. One explanation for former Obama CIA Director John Brennan’s shrill and aggressive conduct over the last four years could very well be based in a reasonable fear of being exposed as someone who has for years been gaming the nation’s intelligence apparatus for private gain. In fact, after being pushed out of the CIA under Bush, and before being brought back to head that very same CIA by Obama, Brennan ran a firm that traded in precisely that kind of tracked private information. It is hard to say which is more offensive: trading on his access and security clearance for private benefit or being an ideologically corrupt and wholly malignant player dedicated to pursuing political objectives wholly at odds with the stated mandate of the agency he was hired to serve!

Our sensitivity to the capacity of the state to betray our trust has been blunted over the past century. In that time citizens have watched our government bring forth policy after policy, program after program, dedicated to war and policing. If some were necessary, virtually every twentieth century initiative was an outgrowth of Progressive nostrums that date back to the Romantic global ambition of Teddy Roosevelt.

It has been an established fact for over half a century, certainly since Gabriel Kolko’s Triumph of Conservatism (1963), that the moralizing rhetoric of late-nineteenth century Progressivism was adopted as a convenient screen intended to mask the interests of an emerging corporate order. What better diversion than to offer a bone to those with a sentimental, Dickensian view of human nature?

While it may no longer be considered common knowledge, it is very definitely all of a piece, a red thread woven throughout American history since the days of Hamilton’s desire to retool imperial British mercantilism for American economic growth. In fact, well before our entry into World War I, the ideologically Progressive threat to our Republic posed by direct financial alignment between corporate interests, military funding, and foreign policy was a matter of concern to contemporary political scientists. A generation later, America’s most decorated soldier, Smedley Bunker, penned a scathing attack on the subversion of foreign policy to politically connected corporate interests.

The long-standing American foreign policy of neutrality articulated by President George Washington in his Farewell Address had been the touchstone for this republic until the Spanish-American War. In words that foreshadowed Eisenhower’s own farewell warning about the malign intentions of a military-industrial complex, Washington declared that we must “avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”

It is clear that the seventeen agencies that make up the so-called “intelligence community,” many of which currently operate on American soil indiscriminately collecting data on 330 million citizens, constitute precisely what Washington would have considered “overgrown military establishments.” Adding insult to injury, after the past four months of civil unrest, those agencies cannot seem to support action against manifestly violent domestic terrorist organizations. The IC currently pursues an agenda that supports careerists, not the nation’s interests.

Traditional conservatives, those who seek to maintain the uniquely American formulation of ordered liberty, have always viewed standing armies with suspicion and have regarded military intervention as an odious last resort since the Newburgh Conspiracy in 1783.

Snowden exposed a twenty-first century Newburgh Conspiracy. He did not sell government secrets to foreign powers for money. He revealed the existence of an on-going intelligence operation targeting American citizens.

John Brennan, and former Obama National Intelligence Director James Clapper have perjured themselves in denying the extent and scope of these horrific breaches of our civil liberties, and they are free men. How free? Free enough to use many of the same tools to stage an attempted coup d’état against a duly elected American president.

President Trump should not delay in pardoning Edward Snowden and in indicting Clapper, Brennan, James Comey and the rest.

Nothing good can come of the for-profit harvesting of illegally obtained private data by government insiders. That way lies totalitarianism. It has to be stopped now.

1 thought on “Pardon Snowden Now”

  1. The IC and particular corporate interests seem very well aligned. Just today, Amazon announced that retired four-star general (and former Chief of the National Security Agency) Keith Alexander has just joined its board of directors. There seems to be almost no reaction to this from the White House, Congress, the “mainstream” press, and self-styled progressives. Here is Amazon’s very brief 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

    On September 9, 2020, the Board of Directors of Amazon.com, Inc. (the “Company”) elected General (Ret.) Keith B. Alexander as a director of the Company, and also appointed him to the Audit Committee of the Board. Gen. Alexander is Co-Chief Executive Officer, President, and Chairman of IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc., a cybersecurity technology company he founded in 2014. Gen. Alexander served as the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command from May 2010 to March 2014 and was Director of the National Security Agency and Chief of the Central Security Service from August 2005 to March 2014. Gen. Alexander served as a director of CSRA, Inc., an information technology provider to the U.S. government, from November 2015 to April 2018. In connection with his election, Gen. Alexander was granted a restricted stock unit award under the Company’s 1997 Stock Incentive Plan for 288 shares of common stock of the Company, to vest in three equal annual installments beginning on November 15, 2021, assuming continued service as a director. Gen. Alexander also entered into an indemnification agreement with the Company in the same form as its other directors have entered, which is filed as an exhibit to Amendment No. 1, filed April 21, 1997, to the Company’s Registration Statement on Form S-1 (Registration No. 333-23795).

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