The US Constitution with its Bill of Rights was and remains a remarkable document, one of the treasures of the Enlightenment–in itself one of the high water marks of human culture. It is also a document in mortal danger.

Edward Snowden, like Bradley Manning, appears to be among the few people of actual conscience and principle allowed access to the dirty cesspool that is the modern American surveillance state. The systemic illegal collection of vast amounts of personal data on American citizens is a flagrant violation of the Bill of Rights and those who knew about or participated in its collection and did nothing are traitors and far more serious criminals than Manning and Snowden.

Soon, if it isn’t already the case, the sysadmins–and reports are there are over 100,000 with his scary level of access–with perms to the database such as Mr. Snowden will realize they hold in their hands the power to destroy essentially anyone in the world by combing through their stored communications looking for dirt. Once found–and face it everyone has dirt–they can then blackmail the powerful and control them. What will inevitably result is a country run by nameless faceless bureaucrats with high security access who are in turn controlling the figureheads the electorate vote for rendering democracy extinct or at the least moot. It’s entirely possible these spooks already are mining this inconceivably large database and using that access to enrich themselves or to blackmail and control the most powerful people in our government. Human nature argues they will if they haven’t already.

Brilliant in its utter stupidity. This is a real imminent existential threat to not only the Bill of Rights but actual democracy.

People are asking, “Why is this Snowden guy holed up in Hong Kong? Is he a Chinese agent or something”? Because there are very few countries remaining in the world that aren’t almost completely subservient to American global hegemony and are by all appearances incapable of standing up to us. China being a rare exception.

One thing that baffles me: I can see maybe why some Americans would buy the security state/military propaganda, but why does the rest of the world follow the US around policy-wise like a helpless lost puppy? “Need another secret rendition/torture/military base?” “Anywhere you please. Really. Anywhere.” “Need some help illegally overthrowing another government?” “Sure, going in right behind you, no problem. Need some cover in the UN?”

Note to world: have a little self respect and stand up for yourselves, at least once in a while. These asshats are screwing us common Americans over too, it’s not like you are really doing us any favors consistently being such servile, compliant doormats for American empire. Hard to respect those who self-evidently don’t respect themselves.

I’m asked by someone in Switzerland if it’s as big a story here as it is there in Europe: Oh, it’s made quite the splash here in the American corporate media although they are obviously spinning it hard to put the best light on the spooks. Hell, half the major network drama shows are little more than mendacious propaganda for this sort of Orwellian spy program featuring attractive and brave security state agents from central casting using idealized sci-fi computer wizardry the viewer is supposed to equate with this to catch scary scar-faced swarthy terrorists before they can strike, killing chiseled firemen and blonde haired little girls. Of course there’s no evidence the real PRISM-type programs has actually prevented anything and the few candidates for having done so when examined more closely turn out to be FBI entrapment stings where the “terrorists” are actually recruited and incited by FBI agents to create a theater simulation of heroic anti-terrorism hardly more authentic than the TV version.

I’m not sure why any country would take us seriously with our high minded talk of freedom and democratic values. Those get discarded the first nanosecond they become a barrier to shadowy cartoon villain billionaires doing whatever they want with government to further enrich themselves. The people at the top in American government actually demonstrably hold the principles of freedom enunciated in the founding documents–the principles that are supposed to differentiate us from tinpot dictatorships and authoritarian regimes–in utter and sneering contempt the moment they feel constrained or inconvenienced by them.

The noble and historic experiment of America, bright eyed child of the Enlightenment, sits teetering on the brink of ignominious failure. It’s by no means clear its citizens even care enough to save it.

Kurt Sperry

Kurt Sperry