Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Would You Want Hillary Clinton (or Donald Trump) Spying on Everything You Do?

You can agree with what Edward Snowden or disagree with it. But there were very clear reasons why he did what he did. The government had a culture of retaliation against any whistleblowers. Retaliation that ended careers. Mark Hertsgaard, in a new book out, discusses the problem:

On May 22, my own exposé of a secret new chapter in Snowden’s story was published in my book, Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden. The exposé details extraordinary revelations from John Crane, a former senior Defense Department official who has come forward publicly for the first time about what he witnessed inside the Pentagon.

A solidly built Virginian with flecks of gray in a neatly trimmed chinstrap beard, Crane had been an assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, where he’d handled whistleblower cases from 2004 until 2013, when his bosses forced him out because he insisted on standing up for the legal treatment of whistleblowers. In dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how his superiors, allegedly, broke the law repeatedly while dealing with whistleblowers—­obstructing justice, withholding and probably destroying evidence, and then lying to a federal judge about it, among other crimes.

Given this bureaucratic hostility to whistleblowers, Crane said he understood why Snowden might decide his only workable option for exposing the NSA’s surveillance was to break the law by leaking documents to the press. Yet Crane lamented Snowden’s actions. “Someone like Snowden should not have felt the need to harm himself just to do the right thing,” Crane told me.

Earlier, Thomas Drake blew the whistle on the same NSA activities that Snowden did, only he went through the official channels. The NSA is the agency which spies on all of us in the name of "stopping terrorism." They have gone as far as to spy on foreign leaders, including allies of ours such as Germany.

In return for his obedience, Drake’s house was raided in 2007. He was fired, stripped of his security clearance, threatened with life in prison, and eventually reduced to working as a clerk in an Apple store, the only job he could find.

Doing that is just like walking through the open door that Wal-Mart invites its associates to walk through if they have a problem. What they don’t tell you is that the open door can lead right out onto the street.

Mr. Crane noted in the book that his superiors would “probably destroy evidence,” among other things. This is in violation of President Obama’s executive order, which states:

(a) In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
(3) restrain competition; or
(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.

But this order is being flouted all the time. The Pentagon and the Police State apparatus is becoming a state within a state, answerable to nobody. Billions of taxpayer dollars is going to weapons systems we don’t need instead of shoring up our infrastructure or paying our servicemen adequate wages. While our roads and bridges and water systems are crumbling around us, the Pentagon is getting more and more money even though there is no accountability whatsoever. The reason your lettered roads are in such bad shape are because all the money is going to feed a bloated bureaucracy instead.

The question is simple — do you want Hillary Clinton spying on what you do? Or if you support her enthusiastically and were Berned Out, would you want Donald Trump to do so? It is not the government’s business what you do online, where you shop, what sites you visit, what social networks or groups you join. You may say that you do nothing wrong, but the next logical step for the government is to take that authority out of your hands. It is like an antichrist, usurping the throne of God. Instead of what you do being between you and your god, conscience, sense of ethics, or self-interest, it’s up to Big Brother to tell you what to do.

In order to restore public confidence in our government, we need more whistleblowers who will come forward. We need to honor them if their information leads to concrete changes for the better in how government works. We need to punish any kind of retaliation against the information they provide. The government started taking steps in the right direction when they started cracking down on sexual harassment in the military, but much more needs to be done. We will not root out corruption in our system until we honor whistleblowers, not punish them.

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