I feel like I ought to apologise to every conspiracy theorist I’ve taken the piss out of in the past. Not because they’re right, but because maybe their absolute unwavering cynicism and conviction that every layer of bureaucracy and government serves, in some way, to undermine our freedoms/rights might not actually be as stupid as I thought. It’s usually not a rational process they use, or an analytical one, but it seems like, through some shoddy grasping of the nature of power, they’re going to have a lot of ‘I told you so’ moments in the future.
The news is making for miserable reading at the moment. The layers of misinformation are growing so thick and fast I can’t even begin to try and parse what is being described. I read articles, statements, comments and it feels like I’m no more informed than I was before. Not in any meaningful way, I know plenty of stuff that people want me to think I know.
This morning Facebook, Yahoo and Google all denied any knowledge of the ‘Prism’ surveillance program that Obama recently confirmed has been running in the US for some time. The original document that was leaked by the Guardian states that Prism runs with “assistance of communications providers in the US”.
These statements are what we have to work with. All we know is that these people have said these things and these documents have been reported on. From here we can, reasonably, conclude one, or more, of the following options:
- Facebook, Yahoo etc are lying, they know about and are complicit in Prism.
- The document is false, but this seems unlikely given that Obama has admitted the programs existence. Of course, Obama is left in the position of having to either say these CEOs are lying or admit that his program is accessing this data unapproved. So he just doesn’t approach the issue.
- These CEOs genuinely aren’t aware of the program and their companies have some kind of strange pseudo-department that deal with this sort of thing and don’t tell the board. Hurrah for more layers of secrecy.
- To hell with it. There’s no way to interpret these events and speeches and arguments and counter-arguments in any way that helps clarify anything approaching ‘the truth’, or as I prefer to call it, what is actually going on. I’m going for a drink.
So am I any more informed? Hell no. I have no idea what’s actually going on, I just know more about the narrative that certain people wish to thread.
Part of the White House’s response to this Prism issue goes as follows; it actually made me physically angry to read this.
“Now, the thing that I want to make clear is that the top priority of the president of the United States is the national security of the United States and protecting this homeland. And we need to make sure that we have the tools we need to confront the threat posed by terrorists, to disrupt plots that may exist, and to otherwise protect the homeland. The President is committed to that. That is his top priority.
But what we need to do is we need to balance that priority with the need to protect the civil liberties and constitutional rights of the American people. And that is the subject of a worthy debate — that there are people who have a genuine interest in protecting the United States and protecting constitutional liberties — constitutional rights and civil liberties that may disagree about how to strike this balance. We welcome that debate. The President has spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think that was evident in his speech and I think that’s evident from the way these programs have been conducted.”
This made me so angry it ruined my day. This, right here, is disingenuousness condensed into some kind of self-serving singularity. If press-releases were people this one would mug old ladies to pay for its all-consuming addiction to snorting powdered children’s tears.
Maybe he welcomes a debate NOW, after he’s fucking implemented everything he wants anyway sans any kind of debate. It’s like saying “I know I just murdered that guy but I wholeheartedly welcome the debate on the respective positive and negatives aspects of homicide.”
It also appears he has no idea what a debate is. Making statements defending your use of absurd levels of surveillance, after the fact, and with no intention of ever changing your stance is not participating in a debate. Nothing will change, this has already happened. Our level of participation in this ‘debate’ has been defined from the outset at a big round 0.
Mr Obama welcomes a debate, one that involves you and your friends or family around the dinner table for a few days until it’s all forgotten about and the media has decided on some other issue to focus on. One that is, unfortunately, of no consequence because it does not appear that ‘the public’ are involved in these issues at all.
Dichotomies like this seem to appear all over the place at the moment. Relating to this, it was only last week that, at a security conference in Singapore, the US defence secretary claimed that the US government was highly concerned about “the growing threat of cyberintrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military”. Yeah well, that seems pretty rich now doesn’t it.
The administration is not embarrassed or ashamed, nor will this blatant and rampant hypocrisy undergo any real investigation or discussion. Or debate. And I HATE that I can say that and mean it.
I welcome the debate on what can be done about governments just doing whatever they please.