The past few days have been a meta gang war around here.
I don't want to get into that.
I've been watching with dismay as dKos has divided over l'affaire NSA/Snowden.
It looks like a win for the Cons to me.
Half the people here have their hair on fire over the breach of the 4th amendment and half are in a defensive crouch over the attack on Obama.
Well, this program has been going on (and some of us have been protesting it) since 2001 (if not before). Has it impacted you? Has it harmed or protected you? How would you know?
The existence of Total Information Awareness, AKA PRISM, has impacted me: It confirmed my distrust of "internet security" as if I trusted it before (I am not a Luddite, I've used computers constantly since the dawn of the PC and I simply don't trust them for anything I would want to keep private). As a result of knowing about TIA since Ashcroft tried to push it through, I am very cautious about what information I leave lying around online, I don't use cell phones, don't do eCommerce (publish a creditcard number on an unsecured network? Ha! Not bloody likely). It can be inconvenient, but I leave few breadcrumbs.
That doesn't mean I'm OK with NSA reading my mail or tracking phonecalls. It just means that I take a less amped up view of it.
It's old news.
What I am having problems with currently is the timing and direction of this issue.
This program was started and stopped and restarted under BushCheney. The FISA court was charged with oversight under BushCheney. The machinery was built and the connections wired under BushCheney.
So now, suddenly, it's Obama's scandal?
Why would that be and who would that serve?
Obama was handed a world where NSA/PRISM was already a thing, where the apparatus of National Security was already way past what most of us think was reasonable. And in some parts, he's rolled back those legally questionable powers and practices. That is unprecedented! Rulers NEVER give up power voluntarily (except this guy). Don't expect Obama to dismantle PRISM on his own. The only way abusive power is denied to the powerful is when it's taken away.
And it is Congress that would be able to take it away.
There is a rare opportunity here for the Left and the TeaBaggers to gang up on the Center and the GOP in Congress on this issue, since those of us on the outer ends of the spectrum agree that government spying on everybody is wrong.
But to go at it by attacking Obama works against us.
And this speaks to the timing of this "bombshell".
This program has been going on for at least 12 years but it surfaces now. Why?
Because it plays into the Libertarian/Lefty meme that Obama and the Dems are just as corrupt and complicit as the Republicans, that there's "not a dime's worth of difference..." et cetera, the same drumbeat that the Left Punditocracy was resonating with in the summer and fall of 2010.
Snowden, who is a Paulite, goes out of his way to make this Obama's problem with his (probably made-up) accusation that this started in 2009. Greenwald, another Libertarian and clearly an intense Obama-hater, has orchestrated this scandal to do maximum damage to Obama, fitting in with the rest of the trashing of Obama he's been set on since 2008.
What is the net effect?
It's part of a campaign (and we saw this exact same thing in 2010) to depress Democratic votes using the Left's media to discourage the Shallow voters.
Shallows are the voters that don't put much attention into the political realm until the weeks right before a vote. Then they scan their favorite political opinionmakers, take their cues from them and vote (or not) accordingly.
When they drop in to dKos or The Nation or TruthOut or TPM, et cetera, and all they find is this disheartening drone of "your vote means nothing, the bad guys own all the candidates, they're all the same, both parties are crap, I'm not voting for either of them", you end up with an "Enthusiasm Gap". That is, Liberal trending voters sitting it out.
I'm not here to say clap louder. I'm not ignoring the breach of our rights or saying that we should meekly submit. I just want to keep the perspective here that this "scandal" is being djinned up at this time for the specific purpose of electing Republicans in the 2014 election.
By all means oppose the spying, but don't do that by killing off the chances for a Democratic Congress, because if you think the GOP is going to take this tool/weapon away from POTUS, well, don't walk too close to the edge of the earth, you might fall off.