Maxiavelli: The Surveillance Programme Scandal & Betrayal

Satire on Romantic Suicide - Leonardo Alenza Y Nieto
Earlier this month, we all heard of the Snowden scandal: a technical contractor for the NSA who decided to betray his country by leaking classified information to the press.
Many hailed him as a hero and many accused him of being a traitor.

Mr Snowden practically said that he was willing to betray his nation because he "can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building." (N.B: the PRISM has been running since 2007)
The US government (or any government for that matter) does not need to destroy people's privacy because most people are more than willing to do it, on their own volition, whenever they post on social networks details of their private life: photos of themselves, of their kids, of their relatives and friends; of their homes, cars, neighbourhoods and their vacations; when they tell the world of their whereabouts; when they share their favourite shop and spa; every single family quarrel they have, their depressions etc etc. Do they know most of the people they befriend online?
Internet freedom is not under threat: people are still free to wreck their privacy; people are still free not to use any online service; people are still free to use anonymizers; people remain free to give untrue information when opening online accounts. People are free in the Web and can pass undetected...as long as they do not commit crimes.
Regarding "basic liberties" (e.g. freedom of thought, liberty of conscience; political liberties and freedom of association), I don't see how surveilling communication patterns - which is basically what the PRISM surveillance programme does - will violate the described basic liberties. When individuals speak of liberties, they should remember that specific right comes with responsibilities, meaning that they must not use their liberty to violate other people's basic rights (to life, liberty and security).

Edward Snowden decided to ignore that the rule of law prevails in the USA and in other western nations. He convinced himself that his "basic liberties" granted him the right to endanger the lives of thousands of US and foreign agents (of allied countries) plus their contacts, handlers, safe houses, meeting points, escape routes etc. He imperilled the very same people who keep us safe and free - he is truly a hero...

There are a few interesting details that deserve a comment:
1. As many have pointed out, he didn't use the proper legal channels to leak this information. Instead, he went straight to the (left leaning) media. Interesting.
2. He told his supervisor that he "needed to be away from work for 'a couple of weeks' in order to receive treatment for epilepsy" - before packing and leaving to Asia.
3. He allegedly misled (although he called it being "vague") his girlfriend knowing that he wouldn't come back. His explanation "That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world." - sounds like he's a delusional field operative-wannabe.
4. Despite going away only for "a few weeks", he managed to empty his (not so little) house in Hawaii - so, how could he have told his girlfriend (with whom he allegedly cohabited) that he'd be gone for a few weeks? One of them is not being truthful...
5. His trip to Hong Kong - Chinese territory. He had to know that after leaking the information he'd be approached by the Chinese Information Services. What will this whistle-blower do: give classified information to a foreign government under duress? Unless, being extracted, in Hong Kong, was the original plan...

Edward Snowden is a traitor. The PRISM, a legal programme, will not stop running because of this scandal, nor it should.
The government is checking patterns of our communication activities (not their content) and, we have nothing to fear if we do not engage in terrorist activity; if we do not aid and abet terrorism and if we do not associate ourselves with terrorists.

Carry on...

Comments

  1. Edward Snowden is a hero!! Governments need to be more transparent and clear about their activities! You are suggesting he's a spy: if he were a spy would he talk to the press? It makes no sense at all!!

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    1. If he was a spy it would make total sense to go to the press to cover up him being a spy, knucklehead! This guy is a downright traitor working for the Chinese! Now Russia says they don't have him...where is he?

      Delete
    2. Hey Anonymous :D!

      Is he now; even though he put in peril the lives of thousands of agents worldwide?
      I agree that governments need to be transparent but not at the expense of security agents' lives.
      Actually, yes; if he were a spy he would definitely talk to the press.

      Anonymous, thank you so much for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
    3. Hi Carl Yo :D!

      Just wanted to welcome you to our domain: we hope you have fun here.
      Russia is saying he is still at the airport...but who knows?

      Carl, thanks a lot for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  2. Yeah, people expose themselves on the web, which is the same as wavering their privacy rights, and now complain that gov is spying on them? Get real people!

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    1. Hi Yolanda :D!

      Thanks for your input. You were missed, girl :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  3. True, people share too much of their lives on the internet. True, internet liberties haven't been that violated, let's be honest! I don't know what Snowden thought he was giving the world with this leak cause we all know for a long time what the US government is capable of! I have one problem with this guy cause he's sending a message that signing a contract with an employer means squat!

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    1. Hi Celia :D!

      You raised a good point: breaching a confidentiality agreement is a serious thing indeed.

      Celia, thank you ever so much for your input :D. Always a pleasure.

      Cheers

      Delete
  4. Olá Max,

    Governments can spy on my patterns of communication any time. I do not fear their activities because I have nothing to hide and frankly I prefer safety!

    Edward Snowden is a traitor, period. The journalist, from that trashy newspaper Guardian, is also a traitor and should be prosecuted. I don't know where these people got the notion that they can print any type of information without giving a rat's a** about other people's rights and security!
    You are absolutely right, Max: if his story doesn't check from the start then why should we believe in anything he says? He has discredited himself from day One!!

    Great job, girl: I absolutely loved this post! Hey, when are you leaving for vacations?

    tchau

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    1. Olá Celeste :D!

      You go, girl!

      I agree with you.
      Exactly, he discredited himself and I am surprised that the media is still capitalising on this delusional being.

      Thanks: I am glad you liked it *bowing*.
      I will be off at the end of the first week of July. But this year, the blog will keep posting articles (albeit with a summer twist).

      Celeste, thank you ever so much for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  5. This on the heels of Obama's phone tapping of the Associated Press. I didn't like Obama when he was elected, and every day he makes me like him even less.

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    1. I don't understand what you mean, Delirious: is Obama to blame for what Snowden did? Is Obama directly responsible for phone tapping the AP?
      I would say that Obama is responsible for what he will do about it and he better do a pretty good job ordering the concerning parties to get that spy, bring him back to the US and prosecute him!

      Delete
    2. Hi D! :D

      I will not comment the phone tapping of the AP because it is my understanding that it was done to ensure the US national security. Thus, it is the duty of the Obama administration (or any other American administration) to protect US homeland.
      You didn't like President Obama...so, you know him in person?

      People shouldn't pretend that governments do not observe their citizens for security reasons. They have been doing it for a least 30 years (perhaps more?), so I don't understand why the "scandal"...

      D, thank you ever so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  6. The irony here is that Snowden is condemning a democracy for being too intrusive, and then running to the totalitarians. I am ambivalent over the whole thing. Certainly I have no objection to the government tapping phones and the internet to stop terrorists. It would be even better if this were used to bring down drug traffickers. The problem is that America is rushing towards being a theocracy that worships total depravity (this is the meaning of "Progress"), and these same intrusive powers are desperately needed to seek and destroy everything good.

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    1. Hi Looney :D!

      Right? That boy is full of contradictions.
      So, in your opinion, you believe that the government should extend its surveillance programme to drug traffickers? We may have a conflict of interests there; if you catch my drift.

      LOL "theocracy that worships total depravity" I like that one. You have a point there.

      Looney, thank you so so much for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
    2. Yes, I believe a sensible government should extend its surveillance program to drug traffickers. The gotcha being the word "sensible".

      Delete
    3. Looney,

      How many sensible governments are there around the world?

      Delete
  7. Snowden is a traitor in my book. I ask since when do the secret services, and companies related to it, hire uneducated and unstable people to deal with classified information?
    This boy clearly thought he was Nikita and that he'd be placed on the field...when this didn't happen, he got pissed, stole information and sold it to the highest bidder (my bet? Either the Chinese or the Russians). He's a tosser!

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    1. Hi Ana :D!

      That is a very good question. But they did try to give the boy an education; only he didn't seize the opportunity *nodding*. It is not unusual for the secret services to pick youth, in high school, and then provide them with a proper education: most seize the chance given; Snowden doesn't seem to have.

      LOL LOL "Nikita" LOL, really? But hey, you may be spot on there: he does seem to fantasize with being a field operative.

      Ana, thank you so so much for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  8. I can't agree more on your thoughts relating to the fact that we ourselves are responsible for what we share on the web and that we shouldn't fear if we have nothing to hide, so to that part I would say PRISM is justified, but one point I wan't to state is in the name of controlling terror activities it is actually getting access to more sensitive information. Last month I was only reading that US was snooping calls of G8 members before the summit, which also gives an upper hand in any diplomatic course. Now diplomacy is one fact, which is never clean and can't be. So in that way I would say PRISM is more like voyeurism and the world ought to rise in these kind of illegal and unjustified activities, which is a pure violation of any diplomatic norms or courtesy and is just trying to gain an upper hand who already has enough resources in its bag to control the entire world.

    And to end by the sheer logic that we have nothing to fear if we do not engage in terrorist activity, US also should not be collecting the information so clandestinely in an obscure manner as also it shouldn't be afraid, if it does not have anything to hide.

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    1. Hi Kalyan :D!

      And this week, news broke that the US was "spying" on the EU - but come on, it is not like the EU doesn't spy on others too. It is a normal procedure in the international relations.
      If I were the US I would spy on many of the G8 members and on the EU: lets not forget that many of the 9/11 attackers headed the US from Europe (two of them were studying in Germany, another was living in Holland - if I am not mistaken), and today Europe still has an ambiguous role when it comes to counter-terrorism (note their dilemma in designating Hezbollah as a terror group, despite evidence of the fact). So yes, the US has every right to defend itself.

      Are you proposing, K, that the secret services become less secret? I am not sure that would work at all...

      Kalyan, thank you ever so much for your input :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
    2. Yes it is very true Max that every country have its intel agencies trying to get better against the each other, and try to gather as much information as possible maybe through un-ethical means but then you'll perhaps agree that US has far larger resources, power and influence at its disposal, which gives it an unfair advantage when it resorts to the same tactics on prying on other nations.

      Delete
    3. Kalyan,

      I wish I could immediately agree that the US has far larger resources, power and influence at its disposal than any other country. But I would say that the US is less hypocritical about it. Look at France: last week we learned that the French secrets services (DGSE) has a programme similar to PRISM only much worse because it goes beyond the metadata analysis...the French system allegedly works outside the law and actually spies on the contents of all communications - yet, the French had a fit when Snowden leaked certain US classified information (who live in glasshouses should not throw stones).

      Delete

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