Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As I write this I’ve just read a story in the New York Times about the U.S. threatening countries in South America to not grant asylum to Edward Snowden. In typical “Times” fashion these countries are characterized as “leftist” mavericks against the assumed U.S. hegemony in that vast continent. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/world/americas/us-is-pressing-latin-americans-to-reject-snowden.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&hp . The attitude of the story is that these countries by resisting our government’s pressure are acting in a petulant manner. This is typical of the mindset of many supposed journalists today who are unable to put in context the history behind the actions of certain players on the world stage. What it highlights for me is that there seems to be unprecedented pressure by our government to capture and punish Mr. Snowden for his “crimes”. With my admittedly jaundiced view of much of the history of my country in my lifetime, the attempt to take Snowden down for his “crimes” makes sense if you put into the context of American history with respect to foreign relations and how foreign relations has impacted the growing unconstitutional treatment of United States citizens at home and abroad. Since this is a huge topic deserving of many tomes and therefore doesn’t lend itself to the guest blog format, my piece will present my own impressionistic view of the interaction between foreign policy and the growth of the American Police State since World War II, which can be expanded, abetted or contradicted by you the reader.
For all practical purposes the Second World War began with the almost total loss of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. While it was known that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had actively been trying to aid Great Britain in its struggle against the Axis Powers in Europe, the American Congress was skeptical of foreign involvement and there was a large “isolationist” strain in the American people. The devastation of Pearl Harbor shocked the nation into realizing that it had to focus upon the rest of the world and awakened within the country a strong thirst for revenge. I say this not disparagingly since were I alive at the time, I would have been one with this national outrage and blood-lust. The problem with arousing such a strong emotional call for action in any society is that in the frenzy to act, societal norms are often breached in the name of expediency. In the case of our country World War II planted the seeds of the Corporate/Military/Intelligence Complex (CMIC) that is reaching full flower today. What follows is my personal overview of this development since that embattled time and why this government has such a great need to crush Edward Snowden for his deeds.The winning of WWII can be equally credited to the rise of the U.S. Intelligence Establishment, as it was to the valiant efforts of our troops. In the years since WWII the veil of secrecy that surrounded these activities has been lifted and much is now known. In July of 1941, FDR established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) under William (Wild Bill) Donovan and thus began the start of a centralized United States Intelligence operation, 165 years after the beginning of our Revolution. This Wikipedia article is a rather simplistic overview, but provides some familiarity with the OSS and its morphing into the CIA after the end of WWII, the beginning of the “Cold War” with the USSR and the subsequent US Intelligence establishment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Strategic_Services . The long history of nation’s intelligence apparatus has been intertwined with the ability to break the coded messages of other, nations known as Cryptography. The two breakthroughs in cryptography in WWII were breaking The Japanese Naval Codes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_naval_codes and the capture and deciphering of the German Enigma Code Machine by a joint Allied effort at the British Bletchley Park Facility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptanalysis_of_the_Enigma . The possession of these two codes gave the U.S. and our Allies a significant strategic advantage. By understanding the maneuvering of Japan’s then dominant Pacific fleet, the damaged U.S. naval forces were able to avoid conflict with superior numbers and know where their attacks would be most effective. In the European Theater the Axis troop movements and the deployment of their naval forces were revealed to the highest levels of our military command and our Executive Branch.
With such vital information, the need for secrecy then became paramount. If either Japan or Germany became aware of the situation they could both change their codes and also mislead actions against their forces. For human beings secrets always have a way of becoming public, it is our nature. To keep these code breakthroughs secret extraordinary measures were understandably necessary. Sometime these measures included sacrificing our own troops and non-combatants to keep from revealing the knowledge of the code breakthrough. There is some evidence, for instance, that the railroads that brought Jews to the NAZI death camps weren’t bombed, because the advice to Roosevelt was that bombing the tracks would make the coding breakthrough apparent. Given the stakes that were involved in World War II, the rise of government secrecy seems understandable and ultimately made perfect sense, except if it was your life or the lives of loved ones being sacrificed. However, in human activity the Law of Unintended Consequences forever plays a role no matter how smart the idea. The secrecy involved in protecting the knowledge of the broken codes and of the development of atomic bombs, established the precedent that expediency in the face of danger gives great license to those charged with protecting us all.
The War represented a watershed for the United States when it came to intelligence operations. Prior to that War, despite the foreign interventions of “Progressives” such as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, our country was not a player in what for centuries was known as “The Great Game” in European Imperialist nations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Game An essential in playing the game was a sophisticated, centralized intelligence operation. In America our intelligence operations until WWII were scattered among the military branches and the FBI, with coordination being the exception, rather than the rule. As victory in WWII became a certainty, the highest levels in the U.S and British governments were already planning their strategy against the USSR in what would soon become the “Cold War”. That Joseph Stalin was a far left version of Adolph Hitler cannot be denied. Certainly Stalin had murdered at least as many, if not more people than did Hitler. The fact is that militarily it was the USSR that had broken the back of NAZI Germany at the great battles of attrition that were Stalingrad and Leningrad. In the pincer movement from the East, the USSR had gained hegemony in Eastern Europe stretching into Germany. With the tutelage of the British Intelligence establishment the OSS morphed into the CIA and the America intelligence effort rapidly expanded into a force unto itself. As the Cold War developed in the late 40’s, there was bi-partisan agreement that expediency must prevail over this “threat” against our country and its people. One of the two prime elements of this expediency was the over classification of what was to be “Top Secret” and thus withheld from most Americans and its politicians. This deprived of the opportunity to examine and possibly protest the actions of our government. The second element was that all manner of laws and constitutional barriers to certain governmental behaviors, were to be broken in the name of this expediency. Let me just illustrate a few:
- Administration of LSD to unknowing American Citizens to test its “Cold War” application.
- De-stabilization of governments around the world perceived as hostile to U.S. interests.
- Assassinations of foreign leaders perceive as being Communist.
- Infiltration of various American political movements and counter-intelligence manipulations.
- Spying by the CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI etcetera on American political leaders.
- Illegal wiretapping expanded into other extensive data collection in the Digital Age.
I’ve chosen six broad illustrations, each of which could be expanded exponentially, to show what has become of the use of “Top Secrecy” in our country and the actions taken against those who dare breach that secrecy. The secrecy is imposed in the name of saving America from the threat of overwhelming outside danger, yet conveniently it also benefits those who are breaching our Constitution in the name of protecting it. As Jack Nicholson famously exclaims in the movie “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth!” This sums up the attitude of those who would destroy the life of Edward Snowden. Interestingly, this 1992 movie dealt with the intelligence/military issues we deal with today and is set in Guantanamo Bay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_few_good_men . Many of our readers here are well aware of all six of the illustrations above, but if needed I could provide evidence for all of these incursions upon our Constitution and go far beyond them, yet they are so obvious I don’t feel the need.
My point is that as the years have passed since WWII, the breeches of our Constitution have grown to unprecedented proportions and have worked to destroy the concept of government put forth by our country’s Founders. Indeed, George Washington cautioned this country to beware of foreign entanglements. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/01/the-father-of-our-country/ . Entangled, however, we are and that entanglement is choking the freedom out of our country. Edward Snowden’s revelation of the extensive spying being done on all American citizens was merely releasing a secret long suspected. With the occurrence of 9/11, the unnecessary war on Iraq, the passage of the Patriot Act and finally the spreading of that meaningless meme “The War on Terror” to justify them, our Corporate/Military/Intelligence Complex (CMIC) has run amuck “saving” our Country, while shredding its Constitution.
To continue to hold the power to run amok, the CMIC must maintain the faith in their cause with the American people. People like Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden must be crushed to maintain the illusion that these Constitutional violations are all being done in our best interests. They needed to be punished to serve as a lesson to others who would have the temerity to expose the truth to America and to the World at large. Daniel Ellsberg suffered difficulty after the revelations of the Pentagon Papers, but overcame them because the America of his time was different than America today. Manning is in Jail, Assange is trapped at an Embassy in London and Snowden is trapped in a Moscow airport. To my mind, these men performed heroic services in the spirit of informing us about the truth of our Government’s misdeeds and should not be considered as espionage agents. The eventual outcome of their lives is yet to play out, but the real traitors to America are those that want to crush them via prosecution in the supposed interests of
“national security”. That the prosecutors may honestly believe in the justness of their cause in hiding the truth of their actions from the public, does not make them less culpable or guilty. An oath of loyalty to our Constitution was sworn by all of our “protectors” and they have violated that oath, on a bi-partisan basis, for many years. Coincidentally, their actions have coincided with most of them achieving a good deal of success, but then the ability to self justify is a common trait in all of us humans. So the question does devolve to who do you trust? I personally don’t trust the government, as run by the CMIC, to uphold our Constitution and I don’t believe they are protecting us from anything by destroying our Constitution.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger