Excerpt from an email
Snowden is an important figure, but not nearly as important as the story he created by releasing these NSA files. President Obama has already confirmed and condoned their practices, but this is a tremendous story substantiated with hard evidence and what follows will have huge, far-reaching implications.
We live in a surveillance state. That much is certain. But there’s a gritty reality behind what that entails.
I just saw graphic photographs of Snowden’s girlfriend on the internet. She’s a lovely lady, but the stories are just despicable – obviously dredged up for titillation to sell readership, but there’s something so animalistic about it. The woman, as meat, without Snowden in her life anymore. It’s fucking tragic, and people are just gawking at her. This “news” outlet describes how she lives alone in her Hawaii home now that Snowden is missing. That’s just sick. Show pictures of her almost naked, and then describe where she’s known to live, and how vulnerable she is. I imagined if that were you, how it would make me feel. I am totally horrified. The United States is currently engaged in an information arms race, and I consider Snowden’s girlfriend a sort of digital casualty, probably worse.
I can say without hesitation no terrorist attack in all the years I’ve been alive has frightened me a fraction as much as the realization I came to myself, that my entire life could be taken away from me in a keystroke on the whim of a government which justifies its Orwellian chokehold on power in the name of “security.”
We may safely declare this is a war between us, and the United States Government.
Even with the awareness of my keywords in the subject line of this email, combined with my position at the Chronicle which is now associated with Snowden – and has undoubtedly triggered the absolute certainty of some nine-to-fiver on federal payroll having to read over this private email to you – I am comfortable saying this to you and to them, and I’d even publish this on the site: We may safely declare this is a war between us, and the United States Government. By ourselves, I mean all the people of the world – even those without a constitution with similar Fourth Amendment rights to privacy & freedoms from searches and seizure – because if our Constitution guarantees us these rights, then shouldn’t it apply to all potential subjects of the US Government? That is to say, every American citizen has been identified by his or her own government as a potential enemy combatant, or a terrorist, or whatever you want to call it… and is treated thusly, with blanketed, aggregate surveillance combined with the specific, surgical analysis of private communications. All tracked, like a herd of sheep, all outliers monitored. I read the figures today, a low estimate puts their requests at around a quarter million US citizens under close surveillance. That is to say, their emails, Facebook messages, Skype messages, Google search histories, Gmail contents, etc. were all turned over for analysis – by law
Perhaps even more disturbingly, as if that isn’t bad enough, I have it on good authority the US Government is teamed up with Microsoft and Google to allow the government to save files to a person’s computer, if required as part of an investigation. At first you might assume this can include keyloggers, and it certainly could, but technology has advanced beyond the need to trace simple keyboard activity. No, perhaps most damaging of all is the ability of government secret agents to plant files on computers through Google and Microsoft Windows backdoors, designed by these tech firms explicitly for government use – which are later used as evidence against outspoken government critics. Illegal files, like rape videos and child pornography can be dredged up from a person’s hard drive and used against him or her in court, after the government put it there – just like that Dave Chappelle joke about crooked cops dealing with black people: “Alright, let’s sprinkle some crack on him and get the hell out of here.”
People, I am dismayed and horrified by the evidence coming out against my government, and their stubborn refusal to undo this evil perpetrated upon us. Next week, the United States will come out with charges against Snowden. There will be protests, shows of support, but the TV-viewing majority, as I witnessed while staying in TN (around a television), is already being told Snowden is a traitor. That’s right, by the “news” like CNN and FOX and MSNBC and whatever else is on there. Even people I work with believe he is a traitor, but Snowden is not like Manning. Snowden, through Greenwald, carefully released ONLY what the public needed to know and is withholding some even bigger shit because he is using discretion the way a journalist is supposed to use and is expected to use, but still, he’s being made out to be a criminal.
And because Snowden is doomed, we are all doomed.
This is the last generation who knew freedom, and we were just kids. I’m sorry this is happening. I really am trying to come to grips with it myself, and I am sorry the whole world got wired up and went fucking crazy. We’re now witnessing the sad, nervous breakdown of a once prosperous nation, and there is no turning back.
This story is still young, so all the things which I’ve told you will continue to come out over the next few weeks, and then it will be dangerously forgotten. The extradition and judicial process for Snowden will be long and slow, just like Manning’s currently is, but this will be worse. There’s going to be a whole new determination of what it means to be ignorant and naive, and people are going to deny the importance of this event, and say those who don’t are carrying on – but mark my words – American justice just shot heroin, and she thinks it feels good.
The rest of our time spent in America will be characterized almost entirely by the long, drawn-out process of watching it die, and remembering better times.