On Snowden, Treason, and Private Contractors

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2013/06/23 by seanmiller12

First, a word about private contractors, because opinions have been offered that no one, outside of the federal government, should carry a secret classification, because of the inherent risk posed by mere private citizens having access to super sensitive information. Americans sent a man to the moon, now, long ago, courtesy of NASA, and its private contractors. Yes, that’s right, private contractors. The list included LTV, McDonnell-Douglas, GE, Brown and Root, Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon, to name a few. Not only did the employees of these companies possess secret clearances and top secret clearances, some held a classification, unheard of by the general public. This was a presidential level clearance. As the name implies, these individuals had access to information, customarily limited to only the President of the United States, and yes, these employees were mere, private citizens.

 Tasks, such as those performed by government subdivisions, such as NASA, have often been too great for one governmental agency to accomplish alone. If an FBI investigation results in someone being considered a safe possessor of secret knowledge, then what is the difference whether this person wears a military uniform, has a GS rating, or is an ordinary civilian? Considering the penalties for violation of their security status are uniform, and well known, there is none. What about the phrase, “All men are created equal?” All men, in this instance, would be held accountable equally, too. Government has utilized ‘private contractors’ for generations. It is a fact of life.The real question is, “What the hell are all of these military-industrialist companies doing in security, anyway?” Well, the answer, obviously, is, “Making obscenely huge amounts of money.” The issue is profit making in a realm, traditionally occupied by government, thereby providing a motive for false positives. The threat is no different from that posed by the private prison business: profit. Profit means a non-criminal act suddenly becomes criminal. School children, acting up as school children will do, are suddenly treated as criminals, because there is money to be made from their incarceration. Each prisoner garners a certain amount of money, per day, part of which goes, as a kick-back, to corrupt judges, part of which goes to corrupt law enforcement. This has been demonstrated, ad nauseam, all up and down the Eastern seaboard.

 Private fire companies allow non-subscribers’ homes to burn, because profit is their only motive. This is why Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Fire Department. Too many fights erupted, on fire scenes, between profit seeking private fire companies, resulting in total property loss. Benjamin Franklin? Yes, it was that long ago. The modern fire service has its origins in the late eighteenth century. So does the American intelligence service, later refined, during World War II.

 So, we see, in the examples of fire prevention, law enforcement, and corrections, how privatization, because of profit-seeking, leads to corruption and repugnance for the Rule of Law. The concept of equal justice under law flies out of the window, and lands in the garbage heap, with privatisation of services. The Office of Strategic Services was formed, during World War II, with a civilian Coordinator of Intelligence in charge, due to the blowback from competition between Naval and Military intelligence. Bureaucratic pride, jealousy, and competition between the U.S. Armed Forces resulted in quagmires in intelligence gathering. A separate agency was decided to be formed. Still, throughout World War II, and later, when OSS became the Central Intelligence Agency, history speaks of many, many mistakes and embarrassments in intelligence gathering, from rivalry among three, rather than between two, agencies. Enter the private corporation and profit.

 We have seen, already acutely demonstrated, how privatisation in law enforcement, fire prevention, and corrections is dysfunctional, leading to disregarding citizens’ rights, ignoring the Rule of Law, and increasing risk of property damage. It takes only a small leap of faith, to expect the same results coming from privatisation of intelligence gathering. In the Occupy Wall Street experience, private intelligence analysts exaggerated risk and even lied about potential terrorist threats posed by legal, peaceful citizens, who were merely exercising their First Amendment rights. Where does this end? Are we to experience, first hand, Winston Smith’s reality, being unavoidably watched by Big Brother? During Occupy Phoenix, in the area around Cesar Chavez Plaza, eavesdropping devices continually materialized in, and around the Plaza, and on top of the surrounding buildings, throughout the duration of the occupation. While citizen demonstrators exercised their rights to peaceably assemble and to petition government for a redress of grievances, at Kierland Commons, Phoenix Police Officers photographed them, repeatedly, to facilitate in their identification, through facial recognition technology. Recently, in Tennessee, a representative of local government expressed that citizens objecting to the quality of their drinking water, might be considered, under Homeland Security rules, terrorists, merely for speaking out.

Except for private intelligence analysts exaggerating risk and fabricating potential threats of terrorism, the Occupy experience routinely witnessed violation of civil liberties by public servants, law enforcement. It was the melding of private analysts with government agencies, which ramped up the patent disregard for citizens’ rights. Profit creates a motive to violate civil rights and further degenerates government ineptitude at public service. If we can expect government to perform an only reasonably adequate job, we can expect private sector involvement to thrash that performance, in its quest for the almighty dollar. Contrary to Reaganomics theory, government is not the enemy, but business is.

 Government, we have seen, has for generations employed private contractors to accomplish certain tasks, the space mission, for example. Such tasks are benign, having no relationship to civil rights. Again, we have seen, in the examples of law enforcement, corrections, and fire protection, how profit turns an ordinarily benign agency into a dedicated profit generator, disregarding rights and responsibilities.  Are we to expect the abandonment of American civil liberties, thrown into the furnace of the fascist melding of private sector with government intelligence gathering? Is this to be our Brave New World?

 It seems that it is. We are on the cusp of a new age, in America, where, to feel secure in our persons, we surrender our rights. Remembering Franklin, again, his quote that “Those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither!” hauntingly forebodes a dystopian future.

 Men like Edward Snowden and Private Bradley Manning are not guilty of treason. They are true patriots of the People and deserve our utmost respect and admiration; Snowden, for turning the lights on, and telling the American People how bad the surveillance state has become, Manning for having the courage to declare the criminal acts performed by our government. We must wish Mr. Snowden Godspeed in his quest for sanctuary against the criminal U.S. Government’s attempts to silence him.  We must hope, against hope, for Pvt. Manning to not only receive a fair trial, but to be acquitted of all charges. Judging from a quote, recently, from an Obama White House staffer, “Fuck Manning!” this is doubtful.

Did we learn nothing from the atrocities committed during the Third Reich? Were the Nuremberg Trials for nothing? Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of an encroaching military-industrial complex; General Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is one of the reasons the John Birch Society labeled him a communist. He would, no doubt, be horrified at how things have developed. Now, we have a military-industrialist-security complex. Now, we see the privatisation of much of it. The JBS labeled President Eisenhower a ‘communist’. The Koch Brothers are the sons of one of the founders of JBS. They are also pro-big business libertarians. How it all comes around! Ike is spinning in his grave!



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