Since National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the NSA's ineffective and illegal dragnet surveillance programs in June, the White House has scrambled and dissembled to explain the surveillance. The New York Times reports on the latest Executive branch doublespeak:
New details about the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone by the National Security Agency further stoked the German government’s anger on Sunday and raised two questions: Why did the United States target her as early as 2002, and why did it take five years for the Obama administration to put a halt to the surveillance?The Executive branch "answers" are more confusing than clarifying. NSA first denied that Obama knew about the surveillance:
The N.S.A. statement said that “General Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are not true.”However, the omnipotent oft-quoted anonymous "senior administration official" attempted to debunk the obvious implication of NSA spying on allied heads of state without telling the President:
On Sunday evening a senior administration official said of the spying on allies that the White House believed that “it’s not that the N.S.A. or the intelligence community were going rogue or operating out of bounds.”The government is too busy trying to keep its misleading statements straight and defend itself after being caught red-handed listening in on innocent people to recognize the outrageousness of telling the American public and the world that "The NSA is in the President's control, but doesn't inform the President of a mission to tap the cell phone of close allied heads of state." Either of this incongruous alternatives - an out-of-control surveillance state with an uniformed or intentionally ignorant executive or an executive who sees no qualms about betraying key allies - should be wholly unacceptable in a constitutional democracy.
More and more Americans are in fact objecting to NSA's dragnet surveillance the government's consistent cover-ups and obfuscation. A majority of Americans see Snowden as the whistleblower that he is. And on Saturday, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and dozens of other bi-partisan groups in the Stop Watching Us coalition, thousands gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest mass surveillance. I had the privilege of reading a statement from Edward Snowden. (Snowden's full statement is available here). He reiterated what I saw at the rally, that truth is not a partisan issue:
We’ve also learned this isn’t about red or blue party lines. Neither is it about terrorism.Some have asked me why Snowden couldn't appear at the rally via Skype. Unfortunately such an appearance is impossible because it would divulge his location. Pause to consider the travesty that an American whistleblower had to leave the country to tell Americans the truth about their government.
It is about power, control, and trust in government; about whether you have a voice in our democracy or decisions are made for you rather than with you. We’re here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators.
As the dominoes continue to fall - the NSA has been caught spying French citizens, the German chancellor, and now collecting 60 million phone calls in Spain - perhaps these countries will open their airspace or consider granting asylum to the whistleblower responsible for telling them the truth.