Lies, Spies, and Videotape.

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Edward Snowden. Hero? Traitor? Irrelevant?

It’s a big deal, and the calls for lionization, incarceration, exculpation, evaporation, and a lot of other “-ations” are beginning to ring from coast to coast and across the world.

I have no doubt the NSA, CIA, FBI, and Mogg knows what other hush-hush agencies would like to see this man suffer in the fiery heat of Satan’s hottest furnace for eternity. On the other hand, civil libertarians are calling for an immediate pardon for a man they see as a brave and fearless national hero.

It appears that Snowden certainly broke the law in releasing the information that he did, but in so doing it also appears that he brought to light an even greater violation of principles than he himself is guilty of. So where do we draw the line?

mission-impossible-season-5

“As usual, if you or any member of your IM force is caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

Sean Connery as James Bond

License to Kill

Spies are paid to lie. Governments who employ them lie on a regular basis. The popularity of the action/spy thrillers on TV and in movies proves that we expect, nay, demand it. In real life it may not be right, but it becomes a matter of national security in some cases; nations simply don’t operate along the same moral lines as we would like them to. Can you imagine what would happen if governments were  completely open, honest, and transparent with one another? [1] The “good guys” are pretty much obliged to resort to deception and subterfuge to combat the “bad guys,” and keep their nations safe. That’s what the NSA and the CIA are there to do. For what it’s worth, we even spy on our friends. Don’t ask me how I know… I’d have to lie to protect certain other people.

Unfortunately, the CIA and NSA and other alphabet-soup agencies have also been tasked with things that have much less to do with keeping our nation safe than with keeping it rich, at the expense of other governments and peoples. If you’d like a glimpse into that shadowy world, read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” by John Perkins; it will most likely raise both your eyebrows and your conscience. An extract of Amazon’s review:

“John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this expose of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an “economic hit man” for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars,” Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carré, except it’s a true story.”

What has been revealed by Snowdon goes far, far beyond keeping our nation safe from external evils; it has much more to do with controlling a domestic population, and despite groans and sobs of denial from those in the know, I can’t believe – I refuse to believe – that this massive accumulation of data can and will not be used for financial and potentiary gain by those in a position to access and use it.

And the fact that this mind-boggling misuse power was authorized years ago by the “patriot act” does not make it any more right. I’m glad it came to light, and I’m glad there’s a dialog going on, and I hope that some people are going to get their feet held to the fire, and I hope that what comes out of it is more transparency, and better for the citizenry of our country than for the power brokers.

I don’t condone illegal behavior. But I do believe in the principle of the “greater good.” I think Mr. Snowdon has recognized that his actions would carry a heavy price, and it was a price he is willing to pay to act according to the dictates of his conscience. I have no idea how all this is going to play out, but for me, at this moment, I’m keeping him in the plus column.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] Somewhere out there is a science fiction story (or perhaps creative fantasy) about a special blend of coffee that mutates somewhere, and has the stunning effect of making people reasonable. After drinking some of it, the French delegate to the UN stands up and shouts, “It’s all balls!” In the end, the entire world has partaken, and governments actually start acting with decency and common sense, for the good of all the people of the world. I have never been able to relocate this story. If it sounds similar to Mark Clifton’s 1952 story “The Conqueror,” that’s not surprising – instead of coffee it was a mutant pychotropic dahlia root that changed the world:

“So it came about that one by one the members of the Politbureau tasted of the dahlia, even to the leader himself.

All of this took much time, and meanwhile heads of other nations who were not so suspicious of every shadow, and not so inaccessible, were eating regularly of the dahlia.

When finally the sincere word of peace and goodwill came ringing from Moscow to all the world, it was echoed back with all sincerity.”

A lovely story. Read it, if you’d like a smile.

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4 responses to “Lies, Spies, and Videotape.

  1. You might also enjoy Spider Robinson’s short story “Satan’s Children”. It’s in his “Antinomy” (that is not a typo) collection.

  2. I’ve been chasing a short story that I read ages ago, but have so far been unable to find. Someone found a computer file which turned out to be the data footprints of an individual, compiled by “the system” into a timeline of that individual’s activities and movements, along with “the system’s” analysis of each move, mostly in a manner suitable to gather material that can be used as leverage against him. Example: “… bought a lady fur coat size XX (Note: wife is size YY)”

  3. Pingback: Confessions Of An Economic Hitman: The Truth About America | Taking Our Planet Back

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