After Paris, Any Scapegoat Will Do

Dark forces are at work in The City of Light – and not all of them are affiliated with ISIS. As I wrote just yesterday, in the aftermath of the latest Paris attack, people are trying to hijack the horrific event to advance their own agendas. They will use the attack to buttress their arguments for even more surveillance and more restrictions on privacy, rather than look for ways to more effectively sift the mountains of data they already gather. What is shocking is the swiftness and shamelessness of the government ghouls and the media cabal in exploiting a human tragedy to foster those aims.

Glenn Greenwald, writing in the Intercept, picks up on this theme by shedding light on a potential target of officialdom’s ire – Edward Snowden and whistleblowers like him, who are likely to be vilified following the Paris assault. He points out that Snowden and his disciples have become convenient scapegoats, as has always been the case with politicians looking to make political hay over information leaks. He harkens back even to the Nixon administration’s reaction to whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg to underscore his point.

The Snowden revelations were not significant because they told the terrorists that their communications were being monitored; everyone – especially the terrorists – has known that forever. The revelations were significant because they told the world that the NSA and its allies were  collecting everyone else’s internet communications and activities.”

Unfortunately, the media – electronic and print (I hesitate to call them journalists) – eagerly acquiesce to, and even abet, propagation of the narrative spewed by government officials. It simply is easier than working harder to get to the truth of matters. Snowden has enjoyed a rehabilitation of sorts some two years on from his revelations, defamation and, ultimately, exile.

The Paris incident will renew malice toward his disclosures, and renew calls for his scalp, rather than for leniency. In another area, it must be music to the ears of those who would want to see places like Guantanamo exist forever, while conversely presenting the feckless President Obama with another reason to dither and fail on a campaign promise (actually, promises made in two presidential campaigns). But I digress.

In his opinion piece, Greenwald correctly posits,

’How did the multiple perpetrators of those well-coordinated attacks — all of which were carried out prior to Snowden’s June 2013 revelations — hide their communications from detection?

You see, the cognoscenti would have you believe that terrorists use the same unencrypted communication that most of us do – and which are massively collected and combed – and therefore, only more surveillance will thwart them. That is hardly the case, given the sophisticated levels to pull-off a coordinated attack of the magnitude of the Paris attack demonstrates.

No. As Greenwald reminds us, the terrorists didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, as if Snowden had to arrive unexpectedly to tell them that using conventional communication could compromise them. In fact, the opposite is true. We have used the fact that they possessed sophisticated equipment and techniques to defeat detection as a ruse for jaw-boning for more agencies’ funding – and at the cost of diminished privacy and freedoms.

Here is just one example of the terrorists possessing foreknowledge of advanced surveillance techniques: While running victory laps over Osama bin Laden’s killing, officials revealed how difficult the hunt was because he was aware of the US’s elaborate communication surveillance capabilities.

Make no mistake, the French can kiss goodbye their laissez-faire way of life. Thier politicians, as have those in other countries, will co-opt this moment to consolidate their grip on power. It begins with Hollande calling for a three-month extension of emergency powers. What awaits, like the odious Patriot Act in the US, enacted in 2001 and still in force, is capitulation regarding personal freedoms for virtual perpetuity.

Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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