Why Snowden blew the whistle

Snowden made a grave sacrifice for you, me, us.  He was a person who knew all about computers, electric telephones, all kinds of technology things and what’s going on with FaceBook and Yahoo News and blogs.

He knew when you look down the isles in grocery stores and see people squinting at cans, plastic bags, bottles in one hand, talking on cell phones in the other, the NSA was listening.  Recording.  Storing.  Every word.  Every background noise.  Preserving it for the future.

Snowden worried about that because every moment a million calls between the same sorts of people as those in the grocery store isles are also being recorded, listened to, stored, preserved.  Along with the background noises.

And Snowden knew at a visceral level that anyone who’d want to listen to those calls, record them, store them, could only be profoundly insane.  And anyone working for the profoundly insane person who conceptualized it would also soon be insane after being exposed to the prospect, the concept and the reality.

Snowden also knew countless millions of happy faces and inspiring thoughts fly around the internet every moment.  Billions of inspiring platitudes.  Trillions of “I heart my [fill in blank]” messages and touching pictures of puppies, kittens, and baby whales. 

Snowden knew no nation could survive the onslaught of such chaos except by trying to ignore it.   Listening, recording, storing it to preserve it for the future is the most dangerous activity in the history of mankind, and not only because it’s being done by sociopaths, psychopaths and otherwise osterized brains.  Noone, Snowden knew, in his right mind would ever even consider such a thing.

Snowden had to try to save the planet.

Old Jules

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16 responses to “Why Snowden blew the whistle

  1. Thank you Mr. Snowden for putting yourself into harm’s way for us.

  2. I’ve been around 64 years and spent 20 in the U.S. Navy performing duties that range from being a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman to a Hospital Administrator and Submarine Medical Department Representative. I joined the U.S. Navy as a volunteer at age 19 in 1969 [Vietnam was still boiling and spilling over into Cambodia]. I volunteered because I believed in “My Country Right or Wrong”, not because I believed that America was always right, but because I know that America always stood for the individual and not some God awful collective.

    24 years following my retirement from the U.S. Navy, I’m not so certain that America continues to stand for the individual. We’ve had a series of Presidents and Congressmen who clearly stand for themselves and those who support them. We’ve had religious zealots such as G.W. Bush and socialist collectivists like President Barak Obama who have worked most diligently to neuter the power of the individual while supporting diametrically opposed collectives. I’m not so sure that America is still America anymore, and if it is not, then, I think we need more Snowdens and Assanges in the world to betray the deceptions these collectivists are perpetrating and highlight how much we as individuals stand to lose. When individualism is subsumed to collectivism, the dream of America painted by our founding fathers is gone; possibly never to return again.

    • Rick: We were younger, had a lot to learn. Inevitably we’d have been wrong about a lot of things. Likely though we’ve presumably learned some things, we’re still wrong about a lot of them. However, we can absorb what we observe and learn from it, try harder to shed obvious failures in understanding in the past. We mightn’t be less stupid than previously, but we can experience the novelty of being stupid in different ways. Jack

  3. @Rick
    “They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it” George Carlin, if the founding fathers dream still stood, we’d all be white slaveholders with millions of mulatto slaves. It has been pretty well proven over the past 237 years that the only freedoms the individualists have/are ever concerned about are their very own.
    An example would be the Koch brothers or the Bush/Cheney/Rockefeller/Morgan/DuPont et al families to Timothy McVeigh. America has always been a God awful collective right down to it’s East Indian Trading Company roots at Jamestown It seems to me that the one who taught and lived in true individual freedom’s principles was hung up on some Middle Eastern cross a long ways back and the Individualist Revolution effectively died with him, if indeed such a revolution has ever been allowed by Humanity.
    Mind you this is just my own sick and twisted 65 y/o point of view, before I enlisted and served 31 months in the 101st Airborne’s LRRP’s in 1967 I kinda felt like you do now.That was when the lies unraveled in a big way for me and that’s a bell that will never be unrung. I’m of the belief today that the dream never existed in the first place until it was created as a justification for the rise of American National Socialism in the late 1920’s.And no I’m not paranoid, I’m just very aware and well adjusted in regards to my environment.
    We’ve tried everything else but peace and sharing in the God awful collective known as civilization. I guess that would just be a too horribly fucked up way for Man to live, especially considering how well the alternatives have worked out for us. Peace brother.

    • “It has been pretty well proven over the past 237 years that the only freedoms the individualists have/are ever concerned about are their very own.” I don’t know, but that seems to be the very definition of individualism and individual liberty – tending to and minding one’s own business.

      As to slavery, the comment itself is nonsensical. The country was newly formed and operating under the Articles of Confederation whereby the central government had no power and the splitting of the Union seemed inevitable. If you add to that the writing of a new U.S. Constitution that gave to the central government powers not previously held at the expense of powers sacrificed by the individual states in an effort to hold the Union, the strict interpretation of “All men are created equal and endowed….” to mean that current slaves, judged by slave owners and governments to be less than 100% human… the abolishing of slavery, can you imagine such a Constitution passing and if passed, it becoming a lasting document?

      I can’t bring our founders to the witness chair to testify as to their intentions, but considering the overall intellect of that great body of men, I find it hard to imagine that they failed to see those fateful words as being interpreted at some point in the future in the way they were intended…as applicable to all men.

      America, like the rest of civilization, in its early years, has acted like the rest of civilization in that it has waged wars, one to gain independence and most others, until recently, only in retaliation against the use of force against citizens.

      The Native America may have been here first, but to a civilized and enlightened populace, were inept and devoid of any ability to advance the cause of civilization and advance the progress of humanity to a more comfortable and comforting position. When aggression between the Native American and the new Americans arose, it was always considered an act of aggression by savages against intellectually and socially advanced and enlightened folk and their government.

      Part of that was intellectually motivated, most was motivated by greed, power, politics and the promise of riches at the expense of a population of people who valued “riches” in a very different light. A great part of this was accepted in the centuries long European tradition of using force to suppress “Godless savages” in an effort to turn them toward Christ and Christianity. The same was done in Mexico and South America and with tribes in Canada.

      No motive is ever as simple first explained or as it seems, and no act of so-called nobility is ever as noble as it is inevitably represented. There has always been greed driven motivations that in a truly civilized society would raise cries of revulsion, horror and a demand for justice.

      As recently as the middle of the 20th Century, blacks and others were legally sentenced to slavery under the guise of justice through an impartial judiciary.

      See the history of a man by the name of Green Cottenham who was arrested by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama and charged with vagrancy,which at the time merely meant that the person who was a vagrant could not show proof of employment. In three days, Mr. Cottenham was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail and fines. Unable to pay his fines, Mr. Cottenham’s sentence was extended to one year.

      Under a standing agreement between the county and a vast subsidiary of industrial giant, U.S. Steel, Mr. Cottenham was sold the Tennessee Coal, Iron $ Railroad Company in exchange for $12.00 a month to pay off the fines.

      He was promptly dripped into the darkness of a mine called Slpe No. 12 and was chained inside a long wooden barrack at night and required to spend nearly every waking minute of the day digging and loading coal. For the rest of this and other tales of such horror, go to the book, “Slavery by any Other Name: The Reenslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II.

      Imagine how much worse conditions would have been had our founders not wrote those fateful, albeit long denied belief that all men are created equal. So, while our founders were men who didn’t quite live up to their rhetoric, they were, in fact, a rare group of individuals in a violent and oppressive global society who had the decency and the intuition to recognize the individual as the true master of the universe and that it is the individual through whom, motivated by the spirit of liberty and private property rights, governments are empowered or destroyed.

      As to Benedict Arnold, in his own mind and in the view of British Loyalists, his motives were as pure as a baby’s first cry. But to those to whom he swore an oath of allegiance, like Snowden; he was a traitor for betraying government secrets. Heroes, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder and it is the victor who determines who to declare a hero and who to declare a traitor.

      This is how civilizations have acted and how they will continue to act so long as individuals are massed into one collective for the purpose of waging war against another. Warfare will only come to an end when governments submit to the will of an educated populace who believe that their individual rights are sacrosanct along with the individual rights of all others and agree to live fully respectful of such an understanding.

      Is such a goal any more realistic than some liberal utopia of utopian communal life and equality for all regardless of their differences in dealing with others in less than a value for value way? Probably not, but which offers the greatest hope for lasting peace and unity and the most in terms of human dignity, purpose and productivity toward improving the lot of all men?

      Jules is correct in that regardless of age and/or experience we sometimes (more often than not) fail to learn or fail to apply what we have learned in our lives and our dealing with and acceptance of others. But, clearly, mistakes or not, what matters most is the path one chooses and because that choice is so important to the individual and to society as a whole, I prefer it be made by each according to his own ability, ambition, creativity and means as opposed to government or some other collective fiat.

      It used to be my belief that the Snowdens, the Assanges and the Benedict Arnolds of the world were despicable characters deserving of being shunned and otherwise punished, but I’m no longer so sure given the distrurst government has earned for itself by the people represented aided and abetted by the arbitrary, capricious, supercilious, and more often than not contradictory pragmatics of theological dogma and its push to live our individual lives in sacrifice and slavery for the benefit of the collective at the cost of security for those whom we love and who motivate us to produce and succeed.

      Evil, whether it comes from an individual or a government, is still evil and the more a disinfecting light is brought to bear on such evil, the safer, the happier and the more freely we all get to live as we choose as opposed to how we are told.

      • “The Native America may have been here first, but to a civilized and enlightened populace, were inept and devoid of any ability to advance the cause of civilization and advance the progress of humanity to a more comfortable and comforting position. When aggression between the Native American and the new Americans arose, it was always considered an act of aggression by savages against intellectually and socially advanced and enlightened folk and their government.Part of that was intellectually motivated, most was motivated by greed, power, politics and the promise of riches at the expense of a population of people who valued “riches” in a very different light. A great part of this was accepted in the centuries long European tradition of using force to suppress “Godless savages” in an effort to turn them toward Christ and Christianity. The same was done in Mexico and South America and with tribes in Canada………………………. Imagine how much worse conditions would have been had our founders not wrote those fateful, albeit long denied belief that all men are created equal. So, while our founders were men who didn’t quite live up to their rhetoric, they were, in fact, a rare group of individuals in a violent and oppressive global society who had the decency and the intuition to recognize the individual as the true master of the universe and that it is the individual through whom, motivated by the spirit of liberty and private property rights, governments are empowered or destroyed.”

        It’s heartwarming that those advanced civilized intellects didn’t waste all that freedom on the Godless heathen individuals who were infringing on their position of being true masters of the universe doling out the spirit of Liberty…………where would we be today without them? Hard to say but a lot would probably rest on one’s definition of a civilized and enlightened populace. Ours probably differ greatly, which makes having many choices and paths a very good thing. My $.02 anyways……have a nice day.

        “The problem with irony is that not everyone gets it.”
        Ray Wylie Hubbard

        • A valued 2 cents. Might makes right and always has. As Obama likes to say, elections have consequences. If the Republicans want change they should try to win one.

          Too bad the native Americans didn’t have that option, eh?

          I wonder if we’d be able to communicate like this had our descendants simply left out of benevolence and sympathy for having intruded into the lives of others without having been invited.

  4. Maybe Benedict Arnold was the first true American?

    • Rich: I read a lot of Kenneth Roberts books as a kid. Don’t know how much he knew about Arnold, but he did portray him as a good man, reacting to corruption and incompetence rather than being a part of it. Jack

    • I think it might be more accurate to say that Major General Arnold was the nation’s first disgruntled federal employee. Rumor has it that his actions led to the decision to offer government servants higher wages and better benefits than those who pay their salaries. America! What a country!

      • A guy has a way of thinking what he’s about to do is right, or admirable, or moral, or ethical, whatever it might be. Pushing a button from a safe location in Afghanistan to launch a cruise missile intended to blow up a village full of anonymous pakistanies [or whatever any US troops might be doing with themselves over there today] is being invited to be described as heroism in some quarters I see on Yahoo news. Generic heroism. Same as a few years ago when all the cops were being bunched together with troops and included as heroes.

        Might as well call Arnold a hero and pick y9ur pool of sources as to call him a traitor and pick the ones down the street.

  5. It’s funny to think that we’ve progressed so far that we can’t agree on what is good and what is bad when it comes to politics. Everything today is so damn seedy, dirty and manipulated that no one want to touch most of these topics. I supposed what was considered as civilized over the past two centuries would blunt any good feelings the founders would have for the people they propagated to raise up the idea that they began.

    • Hi Rick: As you pointed out previously, we can’t call them onto the witness stand, can’t even examine their lives and motives sufficiently to know with any certainty what the founders believed about the future, what motivated them in their own real time. Certainly it’s clear a generation before them there was plenty of self-interest, brutality, greed, short-sightedness in the mix. And certainly a generation later the same was true. But maybe there was indeed something magic driving the moment when those founders met, something that robbed them of the greed that drove their forefathers and their progeny. It would be nice to believe it. I just don’t happen to.

      I’m a fairly consistent believer that people who end up in positions of power, people who become the driving forces behind historical events are almost invariably influenced by one or another of the 7 deadly sins, distributed more-or-less equally among the shakers and movers.
      Jack

      • Not much to argue with here, Jack (And I find that such a relief), but clearly there were some among the more influential who were concerned more about less power to the government than more power for themselves. Perhaps, this only occurs with desperate beginnings, but even if this was present for one brief, shining moment; it leaves hope that in spite of himself, man can think and act with a rationality that keeps his tendency toward domination in check, albeit, temporarily.

        Best to you and your other readers, Jack

        ~~Rick

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