It seems that uber-whistleblower and former contractor to the NSA Edward Snowden has, at least for the next twelvemonth, been given asylum in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Perhaps a September Obama-Putin summit will be canceled as a result of this... or perhaps it won't. Russia is obviously an irritant, along with Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and the few other countries flexing their independence from Washington's jackboot. Having both a nuclear arsenal and huge oil reserves, Russia can pretty much do what it likes... and has. Actual national sovereignty independent of the financial interests running most of the world: imagine that?
Let me make this easy for both you and my own NSA minders. Obviously, not only do I approve of the actions of Mr. Snowden (and Mr. Manning, who awaits sentence, and Mr. Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and any of the other freedom-fighters out there who want to tell us what our own quite-literally-rogue-state government no longer wants to tell its own citizens), I applaud their actions, while readily admitting that I personally would almost certainly not have the courage to take the risks (probably lengthy prison terms) to do anything of the kind.
And so, I'll immediately juxtapose this news of Mr. Snowden's asylum with a great piece from James Fallows writing in the Atlantic,
"Why NSA Surveillance will be More Damaging than you think." The short answer to that is that business interests not forced by virtue of being here to operate in the United States will soon choose alternatives to doing so, be it local or regional networks not going through here, or other arrangements perhaps even of a lower tech nature, to avoid the prying eyes of the United States government and its contractors, because the United States has flushed its honest broker status, and heinously abused the exorbitant privilege of ostensibly hosting most of the backbone elements of the internet.
Here's the thing, boys and girls: not only is none of this shit going to keep us any "safer" from the mini-van or two worth of al-Qaeda operatives still in existence (and among others, Sen. Leahy evidently just concluded that the big phone thing accomplishes nothing of the sort), it wasn't designed to. It's designed to be used against specific kinds of targets: dissidents (animal rights activists, especially the kind who might take pictures of the activities of "agri-business" are prime examples), personal enemies of those in power (generally in the financial sector or the military), or, best of all, business interests whose secrets might prove extremely profitable to steal, particularly for American business interests under contract to do the snooping.
Oh... right... "foreign terrorists" doesn't seem to be on that list. Because everyone knows that terrorists operating in the poorest countries on Earth just this side of the stone-age are best thwarted using the world's most complex and sophisticated high-tech interception methods.
What... they're not? Uh oh...