The NSA doesn’t keep us safe. It makes the world more dangerous by the day.
DEFENDERS OF the American surveillance state have a simple response to the criticisms they’ve faced in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) lying and spying: You should be happy we’ve violated your rights because the world is a safer place for it.
… The Democratic White House has already distinguished itself as the most aggressive administration in history in its pursuit of government officials who turn to the press to expose corruption or lawbreaking. Before 2009, the Espionage Act of 1917 had only been used three times in the previous century to prosecute government officials accused of leaking classified information. The Obama administration has used it six times—so far.
… THE idea that all this surveillance is directed at “preventing terrorism” is itself a deception. Writing in the Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed reports:
Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of U.S. defense planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis—or all three.
Ahmed cites several military strategy documents, including a report by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute that states:
DoD [Department of Defense] might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security is already working with local law enforcement agencies on pre-emptive efforts to derail “civil disturbances”—even in the case of nonviolent, legal protest. Despite the denials of intelligence officials, this is an essential component—rather than an inadvertent consequence—of the U.S. surveillance apparatus.