Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden Working class Americans to be proud of

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

"It's true, though rarely recognized in the control-freakery world of the military, that full spectrum dominance is impossible in the global information environment" *

The release of secret National Security Administration documents revealing the US government agency’s extensive spying and surveillance apparatus has thrown the US capitalist class in to deeper crisis.  Billions of e mails and other private communications between Americans are being stored and processed by the NSA.

Edward Snowden, the young man who revealed himself as the source of the leaks in an interview with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, is presently in hiding and no doubt fearing for his life.  Snowden’s actions come during the trial of Bradley Manning, the young US soldier facing a life sentence for sharing with the US public, information about US government war crimes and dirty diplomatic deals and as Julian Assange, a founder of the Wikileaks news service that published the material, is still holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The NSA’s gathering of the personal information of tens of millions of Americans and others, has been made possible in part by the agency having access to the “systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US Internet giants” according to a top secret document obtained and verified by the Guardian. The access to all this information was made possible through what the media has described as a “previously undisclosed program” called Prism.

The official line is that Prism functions with the assistance of these companies but all the companies involved have so far denied it.  Officials at Apple have said they never heard of Prism. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," some execs have stated.  That is highly unlikely.

We should not underestimate the severity of this crisis coming on the heels of the Wikileaks/Manning revelations which shed light on their phony diplomacy, a diplomacy rooted in lies and thievery. The extent to which this affects million of ordinary US citizens adds much more fuel to the fire.

Amid the turmoil, the profiteers and their representatives in Congress and the White House have condemned Snowden much as they have Manning and Assange.  Barack Obama has defended the massive surveillance network begun under his predecessor, the Imbecile Bush saying, "that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing" because "they help us prevent terrorist attacks."

Dianne Feinstein, a one-time darling of the liberals denied Snowden was a whistleblower, and publicly accused him of committing “an act of treason.”

The Wall Street Journal responded in much the same way pointing out sarcastically that, “At least Mr. Snowden has the courage of his misguided convictions” because he publicly identified himself as the source of the leak rather than remaining anonymous although his motives “..appear to be political paranoia and righteous good intentions.”

After all, the Journal adds, “If he did discover abuses, he could have gone to the multiple layers of oversight including congressional committees.”. These “multiple layers” are actually multiple obstacle courses, hoops for people to jump through until they become so fatigued and demoralized they cannot go on and the secrecy and phony façade of government is maintained. The objection to allowing any undermining of military commanders control over rape allegations in their units is motivated by the same concerns.

The Journal then went on to discredit Snowden personally, “His likely career path took him from community college washout to NSA security guard to Central Intelligence Agency IT consultant…”  Normally, a guy who never graduated high school ending up as a well-paid specialist for a major government agency would be good news for Wall Street Journal readers.  But you have to be on the team, you have to be prepared to suppress democracy and keep from millions of Americans information they have a right to know. 

US capitalism is experiencing a political as well as an economic crisis.  We have here a situation where its own internal regime is breaking down. US capitalism, the sole global superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union is spreading itself very thin as it is forced to defend its global influence and the struggle for resources and has to put the US working class on rations to finance it. The self-proclaimed American Century lasted barely a decade. 

After the collapse of Stalinism, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “We Won.”  The society the US capitalist class referred to as “Communism” had fallen under the weight of its own parasitic bureaucracy; the bi-polar world was no more and the US stood alone as the most powerful economic and military force on earth. Full Spectrum Dominance was the new mantra.

Officially known as full-spectrum superiority this term was defined by the U.S. military as:
“The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.”,  “Full Spectrum Dominance” became the new order.  US capitalism must be free to travel the world uninhibited.  Even cyberspace must come under US capitalism’s control.  In the two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rapid technological advances and the events of 911, cyberspace has become the battleground of the future.

With the official goal of making the world “Safe for Democracy” after the events of September 11th 2003, the US increased its military presence throughout the world and beefed up it security and surveillance forces at home and abroad to the point that some five million Americans hold US government security clearances. But the wars in cyberspace are real, despite possessing billions of dollars worth of military hardware, the right hacker with the right program can create havoc with a nation’s defense/offense system. The huge increase in private contractors having access to secret information is a product of the increasing cyber warfare and, as the WSJ points out, large US companies are lobbying the government to grant more security clearances for their employees, in part to, “..fend off hackers from Iran, China and elsewhere.”

The changed global relations since the collapse of the Soviets and the bi-polar world has increased tensions between nation states particularly with the rise of China and the Russian Federation.  The rising social movements from Egypt to Greece, Latin America, China and South Africa, very much aided by social media, have increased the need for surveillance and control of the Internet as well as increased police and security presence on the ground.  The US War on Terror is an announcement to the world that US capitalism has the right to wage war anywhere it wants.  Waged under the banner of saving the world for democracy it is a war for global domination and the plundering of global markets and resources; it is a war without end until the planet can no longer sustain it.

Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, are heroic figures.  The war to criminalize investigative journalism, another by-product of the War on Terror also has its heroic figures like Glenn Greenwald and others who refuse to “embed” their journalistic integrity in the cesspool of bourgeois politics.

Apologists for the 1%, as they do with Bradley Manning, claim Snowden is aiding terrorists and placing US troops in harms way.  But it is not terrorists (a term that encompasses any person or persons that oppose US imperialism’s agenda) that Snowden’s leaks were being kept from.  So-called terrorists know full well they are being tracked; the US has been imposing such measure like retina scans on civilian populations outside its borders for years.  It is the US population that was unaware of this extensive invasion of our privacy until Snowden revealed it to us. 

Snowden made it quite clear that had he wanted to harm the US as a nation he could  have. “If I had just wanted to harm the US, then you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon, but that’s not my intention.” He said in his interview with Greenwald.  He has made his intentions very clear:

“I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy, privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,"

“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions.”  he said, and that he would be satisfied, “if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

“I’m no different than anybody else…” he went on,  “I don’t have special skills, I’m just another guy who sits there day to day in the office, watches what’s happening and goes, ‘This is something that’s not our place to decide. The public needs to decide whether these programs are right or wrong.’”

As this crisis deepens it is forcing some in the US Congress to try and cover their asses and question the level of surveillance activities in the US and a review of the Patriot act has been suggested.  Internationally, Obama and all US government officials will be facing questions form their counterparts throughout the world. They are all involved in this cyber warfare but the US has the big stick.

It is likely we will see more of this in the future and one can only wonder at this point what effect this will have on the Manning Trial.  There is no doubt Snowden has increased his chances of survival by coming out in to the open although the US state apparatus are masters of assassination.  It is the US working class that they are afraid of here; they have become a little overconfident and overconfidence in politics can lead to severe mistakes, even catastrophic ones.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have stood up against the most powerful militaristic force on the planet, two working class young men against the US state.  They are truly heroic figures in every sense of the word. By comparison, if we go to the official website of the AFL-CIO we will see nothing, not a word about this episode that is being talked about across the globe (if there is anything it is hidden). The stifling bureaucracy that sits at the head of the largest national labor organization in the US is best described as similar to the old soviet bureaucracy without state power. For those of us proud of US working class history and those heroic figures who built our movement, the present heads of organized labor are nothing less than criminal in their cowardly retreat in the face of the bosses’ offensive. For organized workers, we are in a war on two fronts, one with the bosses and the other more difficult one with their allies who lead our movement.

Despite this, Republican Rep. Peter King’s statement that  “The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”,  belongs in a time passed. US capitalism has limited credibility abroad as its allies are unreliable lackeys, bought, cajoled and bribed in to their camp and its representatives at home among the most hated and distrusted figures in society.

The world has changed much in the past 20 years. These developments are very positive and reflect the growing frustration and opposition to a bankrupt economic system that threatens to end life on this planet as we know it. Workers throughout the world should support Snowden, Bradley Manning and others like them, actively where we can. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

It is a good time to be alive. 

*Professor Philip Taylor of the University of Leeds an expert consultant to the US and UK governments on psychological operations, propaganda and diplomacy. source

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