The release of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, has been the occasion for a media storm: Greenwald is all over the place, from Colbert to "Democracy Now," and there is much new material for us to chew over. One shocker: the NSA intercepts computer equipment intended for its targets, implants bugging devices, and then reships it, a procedure they dub "supply chain interdiction." As Greenwald put it in an interview with Canadian media:
"While American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers, foreign organizations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones. A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The document gleefully observes that some ‘SIGINT [signals intelligence] tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!).”
There are more revelations, but the Big One, as Greenwald has made clear, is yet to come. In an interview with GQ magazine, he had this to say:
"I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There’s a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I’m saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale, a big missing piece. Snowden knows about it and is excited about it."
So what could this explosive story be? Last [Monday] night on "The Colbert Report" he dropped us a hint: "One of the missing pieces," Greenwald said, "is on whom is the NSA spying?" He gives us more in the first part of a two-part colloquy with Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now’:
"You know, one of the interesting things is, obviously, people are very aware of the COINTEL abuses. I know you’ve had people on your show who actually participated in the break-in of the FBI and took the documents that unveiled that program. People are aware of J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses. The nature of that series of events is that the United States government looks at people who oppose what they do as being, quote-unquote, ‘threats.’ That’s the nature of power, is to regard anybody who’s a threat to your power as a broad national security threat. And a lot of times people will say, ‘We don’t yet have the reporting in this case that shows that kind of abuse.’ And a lot of that reporting is still reporting that we’re working on and that I promise you is coming."
My blood ran cold when I heard Glenn say that, for two reasons.
The first is that if this is true – if the US government is now targeting political dissidents with its hi-tech tools, just as J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI did using the primitive technology of the 1960s era – then our liberty is for all intents and purposes gone.
We’ve been told that the rationale for this all-pervasive surveillance is to target "terrorists" and protect the country from their evil plots: but if the reality is that they’re going after garden-variety "radicals," i.e. targeting Americans because of their political views – and getting away with it – then we are living in a police state no better (and in some ways worse) than anything the world has yet seen.
The NSA’s "new collection posture," as shown in the NSA documents reproduced in Greenwald’s book, is: "Sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all, exploit it all, partner it all." In short, they aim to abolish the concept of privacy – and if they are now targeting political "radicalizers," as one of their documents puts it – not Al Qaeda, but American political dissidents – then our old republic is no more. The Constitution means nothing: the Bill of Rights is abolished, and we are living under a de facto "democratic" dictatorship.
My blood ran cold for a second reason, however, one more personal and immediate: that’s because in the summer of 2011 we discovered that the FBI had indeed targeted Antiwar.com – specifically myself and our webmaster, Eric Garris – for what they termed a "preliminary investigation" in 2004. We learned this through a Freedom of Information Act request made by someone else: in an April 2004 memo some FBI high mucka-muck speculated that we might very well be "agents of a foreign power" – and that it was high time to "sniff" around after us.
The significance of the "foreign agent" phraseology was underscored when the Snowden revelations came to light: for the "legal" rationale behind the NSA’s police state operation is that targets are alleged to have a "foreign" connection. Technically, the American version of the KGB isn’t supposed to be conducting surveillance on any US citizen without a requisite "foreign" connection – and here was the FBI inventing one, or at least trying to. Since there is no such connection – Antiwar.com is run by Americans, and has no overseas organization or funders – I assumed, at first, that this exempted us from the NSA’s spying.
As time went on, however, and it became clear that a "foreign connection" could be established by discovering a "two-hop" or even a "three-hop" link to an entity deemed foreign, I started getting a little nervous – and yet still my innate skepticism remained largely intact. After all, wouldn’t it be awfully stupid for the NSA – and the FBI – to be spying on a legitimate constitutionally-protected non-criminal enterprise such as Antiwar.com? The danger of being caught, I thought, was too great: it would all come out eventually.
And perhaps now it will.
The specter of the Surveillance State is hanging not just over my head, and Eric’s – it’s casting its dark shadow over everyone in America who has ever had a "dissident" or "radical" thought and expressed himself or herself in an email, over the phone, on a blog, or using any other form of electronic communication. This is what an authoritarian state looks like – and "elections" don’t change the equation one bit.
In a truly free, or even semi-free society, this question – "Am I being spied on by the government?" – wouldn’t even come up. As it stands now, however, anyone in America who has ever expressed a "radical" idea is now a potential target.
Nothing short of a revolution is going to reverse this monstrous reality. Whether it comes in a peaceful form – perhaps some combination of electoral and legislative action – in which the warlords of Washington are thrown out on their ears, or some other way is not for me to say. No one can know the future. What I do know, however, is this: one way or another, the monster must be slain.
Peasants with pitchforks – that’s your cue….
A SPECIAL NOTE TO MY READERS: If the above doesn’t motivate you to donate to our spring fund drive then I frankly am at a loss as to what will. The very real possibility that the feds are on our case, and are actively seeking to find "evidence" that Antiwar.com’s principals are "foreign agents" – subject to prosecution – ought to send a chill down more spines than just my own.
C’mon, readers – we’re working day and night to give you the best, most up-to-date news and analysis of the War Party’s latest schemes. Do you think you could dig down deep in your pockets and throw us a little extra change? I mean, the FBI hates our guts – isn’t that worth something? While the first day of our fundraising drive was okay, day two frankly sucked. The neocons who are even now plotting more wars, and propagandizing against Snowden as a "traitor," are never short of cash – we, on the other hand, depend on you for the resources we need to fight them. Please make your tax-deductible contribution today.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.