The NSA and PRISM scandal
broke by Glenn Greenwald this week is the biggest story of the year, and eclipses all the real and imagined scandals we've been dealing with up to this point. Given the Obama administration's penchant for zealously pursuing whistleblowers and spying on journalists, it took bravery for someone in the government to come forward with this information. People are already calling for them to be arrested and imprisoned for life for supposedly aiding terrorists. Especially those misguided Islamists with a Verizon plan.
Naturally, there are cartoons in the works. Subscribers
--and the NSA--will have the first batch in their inboxes Monday morning.
While we may have suspected the NSA was involved in an Orwellian Big Brother Data Sweep of dystopian proportions, we finally know the scope and details of what they are up to. PRISM reaches into the servers of the major internet companies like Google and Facebook, where we spend most of our time, and pulls videos, chat logs, (porn history?), everything. They know nothing about all this, of course, can we please move on now. The NSA is gathering information from all major cell phone providers and now, we learn, credit cards. Check The Guardian
tomorrow to see if everything after 1997 has actually been a simulation and you're naked right now in a NSA Matrix pod.
There's a line I've seen trotted a few times now that goes, "Ah, we knew all this was happening, you idiots!" We didn't know. If you knew about PRISM you should have scooped The Guardian
and made a name for yourself. The fact is, this story is mammoth and is bringing an incredible amount of attention to a program that's been operating in total secrecy for a decade. But, yes, you're smart and get a pat on the head for not being a "sheeple."
Two stories in all this I wanted to make note of. First is a bizarre column
in the New York Times
focusing on Greenwald himself, dismissing him as a mere "blogger" in the headline, and quoting Greenwald's online sparring partner Andrew Sullivan being particularly nasty. Does the Times
do this on every reporter who breaks a huge story? The full exchange
between Sullivan and the Times
makes it clear the reporter was fishing for sentence fragments to create a certain atmosphere around Greenwald. The implications in a post-Manning/Wikileaks world of not being considered a "real" journalist while revealing national secrets--and why any writer at the Times
might want to portray someone scooping them in that light--are truly despicable.
The other thing is a Politico article
that examines Obama's routine response to revelations about his executive overreach and rolling back of civil liberties. It's that he and his team are "eager to have this debate," and we already saw him trot this out this morning. Illegal activity we tried at all cost to keep hidden? Let's have the discussion! There is this side over here and that side over there and things that are important and we are speaking into microphones now. This above-the-fray nuetrality act wore out two Constitutional scandals ago and seeing his defenders lap up his latest will certainly be subject of a cartoon in the near future.