So Ed Snowden is back in the news with an exclusive interview given to Brian Williams and NBC. I didn’t watch but I read some transcripted moments. This guy is a high school dropout? Sheesh, he defended his actions with an eloquence statesmen can only dream they had. Anyway, also this month, Frontline (PBS) aired a two-part documentary about the NSA’s domestic spying (mostly) and Ed Snowden (a little). It is called United States of Secrets and Part One aired May 13th while Part Two aired May 20th. However it is is also available for streaming. I didn’t watch. Then I did, thanks to the Fatman…
I had seen it was coming up on TV listings, and I was like, “I should watch that,” but I didn’t because who wants to make themselves miserable and angry when they could be watching re-runs of Friends? So I blew it off, but then Fatman discussed it on Facebook and I said “I need to make myself watch.”
There is far too much in the program to discuss on a brief blog post, but one take away I did want to mention is the astonishing condescension of the Intelligence Directors leading this spying on the American Citizenry. General Hayden, who ran the NSA under Bush II, just kept talking to the audience like we were little children and basically saying, “Hey, I can respect the constitution and the Fourth Amendment, but you’re gonna have another 9-11. Just tell me what you want, princess.” OMG.
The Fatman always signs his emails with the famous Ben Franklin quote: Those who would give up essential freedom to purchase a little security deserve neither. As I was watching United States of Secrets, I couldn’t help thinking of another quote (by George Santayana): Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.
I wonder if we need a corollary: Those who disregard the wisdom of history (alá Ben Franklin) are dooming us all (alá Santayana). High level government officials seem to be astonishingly immune to wisdom.
And the chattering guvmint officials who keep calling Snowden a traitor just bring out the “middlerage” in me. I kept buying the official talking points that the NSA was “only” scraping off meta data (bad enough) and “only” collecting info on US citizens when one half of the communication was foreign. Turns out the guvmint is lying on both accounts. They are listening to everything you and I do. All the time. Watch the doc. I link it below.