I can hear the defenders already. “We are doing this for your own good” they will say. “We stopped this terrorist attack,” they will offer. “Terrorism!” they will shout. “9/11 changed our world,” they will try, desperately, to convince us.
There will be those who will side with those defenders. “I have nothing to hide,” they will say, “let the government read and listen and track and monitor and watch my every move. They will be bored to death.” “I trust my government. If the President says it’s okay to do this, then by golly, they should,” some devoted individuals will claim.
I need to take this a bit further for you all. I need you to see further down the rabbit hole. I need you to understand what is also at stake here.
I just need to figure out how to say this the right way.
We know this: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
First, let’s clear something up. At this point in time, your government does not belong to you. It does not work for you. It does not exist to serve you, your family, your community.
It exists to serve the elite, the top .09 percent. Sure, there are other wealthy factions who do quite nicely in our current state. As long as they keep the status quo.
Wall Street has gone unpunished. Why?
Well, because they are part owners of the government.
We are in a global war on terror, where our government entities, both in open engagement with our military, and hidden in the shadows, as described in Dirty Wars, work every day to keep the world’s population in fear. Why, you ask, would our government partake in such horrors?
If you don’t know about the military industrial complex, go take your blue pill and enjoy your nap.
The military industrial complex is also a co-owner of our government. War is big business. It’s the cash cow that keeps the engine running.
Across this nation, in fact found across the world, the institution of plundering the earth for her treasure has been relentless. Blood for oil is not just a statement found on an activist’s blog, it is government policy. Our government policy. Fracking is simply the next move. They know the earth is running out of oil. We are reaching the tipping point. We are reaching Peak Oil, and the fight for oil reserves is at an all time high. Fracking is decimating our ecology, our land, our water, our people. Sure, people are fighting back. They are left staring at a palm in their face, telling them, we can’t help you. Why, they ask?
Because the oil and gas industry is also part owner of our government.
I say these things as a point of reference for those who like to say, I trust my government with my privacy. I have nothing to hide. This is our government, they are working for me.
No they are not.
The recent revelations released by Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald is hopefully a wake up call to All Americans, despite any political affiliation or left/right leanings you may have. For those of you who say, “I have nothing to hide,” I’d like to share some things with you.
First, let’s understand the relentless attack on whistleblowers. Unprecedented by any other administration ever. If you have not been reading up on Bradley Manning, do your patriotic duty and read up on him. If you don’t know who Aaron Swartz is, do yourself a favor and read up on him as well. While you’re at it, look up Daniel Ellsberg, John Kiriakau, and Thomas Drake. Throw in some Bill Binney while you’re at it.
We live in the information age, where we carry more technology in the palm of our hands than has existed in libraries over the ages. Sure, I can check the weather in Australia, I can read movie reviews, I can access email, play a favorite song, and find out what the hell “derp” means. I have a clever GPS that can allow me to plug in an address, and my smart phone will tell me how to get there.
Unfortunately, it can also allow my government to track my every move.
Why should I worry, you say. Are you a criminal? Are you up to some underhanded behavior? No, I will tell you. But that doesn’t matter to the government. By their standards, I could easily be categorized as one.
Here are some truths about me I will share. I have duel citizenship.
I was once married to a man from Iran. When I traveled with him, and with our children, to visit his homeland to visit family, I also became an Iranian citizen. This is simply how it is done. I had to do it to travel there. Once you marry a Persian man, the woman becomes an Iranian citizen. I have a birth certificate, and was placed on his passport along with the children we had together. I spent 5 weeks there in the summer of 2003, soon after the start of the Iraq war. I also went in the summer of 2009, soon after the beginning of the demonstrations of the Iranian Green Movement soon after their elections. In short, I had a wonderful time on both vacations, surrounded by loving members of my ex husband’s family.
One particular family member, my kids’ uncle, was once a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is a part of the requirements of the society there, men serve in the military, I was told by my ex. No big deal to me, I thought. He’s a great guy, and a loving uncle to my kids.
My government has deemed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
So here is my issue: Does this mean I am considered a person of interest, having spent time with someone who was part of a “known terrorist” group? What does it mean for my children? Are they on a watch list? Under surveillance? Is someone speculating that they may grow up some day to become a terrorist?
You may say my speculations are all unfounded. That I have nothing to worry about. As long as you are living your life within the guidelines of the law, you should be fine.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you Anwar Al-Awlaki. No, I am not a cleric, I am not trying to convince someone to hurt our country, our countrymen. This is an American Citizen who supposedly said bad things about our government. He supposedly helped influence those who would bring harm to us, like the underwear bomber. I say supposedly, because no charges or proof have been supplied in a court of law to support these allegations. He was on the kill list, and our government issued a drone strike and killed him.
Two weeks later, in an odd turn, his 16 year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was blown to bits. The only way his relatives know this is was by the piece of skull that remained with his billowing hair still intact on it. Otherwise, all that was left was unrecognizable bloody flesh and bone.
What had this boy done? Why was a child, an American Citizen, murdered at the request of our government?
Why indeed. We still do not know.
Speculations abound. He had the wrong parents? Is this what defines our logic and reasoning for how we determine who lives and dies? Is this the justification on those Tuesday Morning terrorist meetings?
Did they kill him because of what he might become? That this 16 year old child might one day seek to avenge his father, that people who were supporters of his father might use him as a martyr to set up further support of the backlash against what our government is doing in our name?
Where is the outrage? Where is the rule of law? Where are the decent human beings who see this act as a crime against humanity? That all of this endless war and suffering done in our name is indeed unjust, inhuman, and despicable?
I share my story, not because this is about me, but because there are others like me out there. People who have done nothing wrong. Who are simply living their lives. But someone informed on them, someone decided to put some “clues” together, someone in a position of power put them on a kill list and said, hey, this guy looks suspicious, he might do America harm one day, we need to take him out, Mr. President. If you look at the definition of what is considered a terrorist these days, or what is considered "intent," well, sorry, buddy, but many of you could be considered a terrorist. When we use these broad terms to deem innocent people guilty of a crime they’ve never committed, when we remove any due process and any court of law that presents facts and simply say, this person is a terrorist, they should die, when we fail to recognize how out of control our government has been behaving and stand silently by as children and innocent civilians continue to be slaughtered in our name, then we have no right to shout out when they finally come for us in our own homes.
That’s exactly what they are doing now. They have infiltrated our homes, our phones, our computers, our lives. All of our information has been accumulated, filed, and stored, for whatever reason they wish to use it for. And not just citizens.
This is how we look further into the rabbit hole. This is the part we need to take into consideration. Everyone is being spied on.
Everyone. Judges. Senators. Lawmakers. Journalists. Public figures.
Our government does not belong to us. Look at what’s happening in our country right now. Austerity? Cutting Social Security? Schools being closed down while billions spent on for profit private corporate prisons? Local police departments being militarized? Endless Dirty Wars? Fracking spreading across the country? A bill requiring back round checks for gun purchases, supported by 90% of Americans, voted down.
Don't think for a minute the NRA isn't a valuable part of the military industrial complex. Weapons are big business too.
Tens of thousands of people with security clearance, can easily be paid off to infiltrate and reveal information about anyone, ANYONE. Mr. Snowden could have easily made a fortune. He could have sold secrets to corporations, he could have blackmailed powerful, wealthy people, he could have sold information to other countries. He had the information at his fingertips. He knew others had this same information at their fingertips. Imagine a Senator about to speak out against something important, like spying, or war, or fracking, and a corporate entity gaining access to NSA information, able to use it against him or her, to get their compliance, to keep them quiet.
Whoever owns all of the information about all of us, owns the power. What might look suspicious on paper, could be a completely innocent, logical, explainable turn of events. Just because they've made it legal, doesn't mean it's right. They've made it "legal" to torture, to imprison without charges, to kill any suspicious American citizen. Being that there have been drum beats for war with Iran in the very recent past, with the President and his administration claiming "all options are on the table," does that mean I am considered a terrorist? What if I go to a peace rally, with signs saying no to war, to support peace?
Yet, who's gonna be able to explain anything when that Terror Tuesday meeting sends a drone strike on you, or your family, or your village?
Are you seeing the bigger picture yet? Step back, and open your eyes.
Or a sophisticated hacker from another country, gaining access to all of these endless files. The NSA has conveniently done all the work for them. We are supposed to trust that every person in the intelligence community has enough scruples to not do anything harmful to others?
I wish I could say, I know there's proper oversight, that my government will do what is necessary to protect me and my family from harm, that all of our personal information is not being gathered by a for profit corporation who can dow what it likes. If you trust President Obama, congratulations. You may not trust the next president, thought.
This leads to the next level of the rabbit hole.
We know that activists who’ve done work for, say, Occupy Wall Street have been under surveillance. The fact is, those who are trying to bring about positive change are all under suspicion. If they believe you are gaining too much influence, too much of a public voice, who’s to say they won’t go through your data base they’ve developed from this Prism system, and piece together a picture that can reveal whatever story line they want about you? They keep people in fear to keep them in compliance.
Right now, there are those who are seeking to crush Mr. Snowden. Create a story they can throw out to the talking heads, like Ailes and his talking points he issues to his Fox staff.
This bright, level headed, bold young man took an amazing risk for us all. I for one will defend him, and others like him, because he's out there protecting people like me, like you, like all of us. So are all the other brave gentlemen I mentioned earlier in this diary. So is Glenn Greenwald. And Jeremy Scahill. And so many others. I wish I could thank each and every one of them personally. A group hug to encompass all those dedication to justice and freedom and democracy that our own government is so lacking. Mr. Snowden is sitting in a hotel room, worried about his family and his girlfriend that he had to leave behind. Worried about what they are going to go through. His conscience and his own moral compass forced him to take this path. He has given everything up for all of us, so that we know the truth. So that we empower ourselves. So that we have the tools to bring the change that needs to happen in this country, before it becomes what he called it a "turnkey tyranny." He did this for the right reasons, we know this. He says he is not afraid. Neither am I.
The only thing to be afraid of is to watch this brave young man risk everything and still have nothing change. I ask each and every one of you reading this, to please not let that happen. I don't have the answers, but at least, let's start asking the right, informed questions. Let's be bold, let's be fearless, let's step out and honor those who've risked everything for our benefit, and defend them from the upcoming detractors who will slander and sideline these brave whistleblowers.
Only by uniting together will we accomplish greatness.