The Secrets and the Damage Done, Part 1: Regarding the Need to Care:
So here we are. Remember all that gut-wrenching, headache-inducing, knee-weakening vertigo we felt when John Poindexter wanted to keep a record of every midget bondage website we jacked it to? God, the outrage, as if the mass usage of a data streaming technology invented by the Pentagon for military use wouldn't, at the end of the day, be used by the military and by government intelligence operations. We sacrificed privacy for convenience, that the ability to iPad over to IMDB in order to settle an argument over who died second in Hostel was more important than spies being able to find us with a couple of swipes on a touchpad. Yes, we are here, now, all of use merely pre-criminals, waiting to give off the secret telltale signs that make it appear as if we have breached some invisible border between good and evil. For we have cut off our dumbass noses to spite our stupid fucking faces.
Even if we said we "knew" about government data gathering, we didn't know. Now we do. Now we have had revealed the surveillance state apparatus, the unholy mating of government and big business giving birth to a tentacled chimera that slithers into all the moldy corners of our dark lives. And then the IT guy gets to decide which of us needs to be targeted for greater scrutiny.
Whenever you argue with someone about whether or not there's something wrong with the government spying on everyone through phone records and online footprints, you either get someone condemning supernerd Edward Snowden for narcing out the NSA and his employer, Booz Allen, and perhaps writer Glenn Greenwald for breaking the story, or you get some variation on "I don't care. Just keep me safe."
Of course, of course, ignorance being bliss and all, it's par for the course for blissful Americans. The wars of the post-9/11 era, on terror, Afghanistan, and Iraq, have been fought on the down low, with the majority of the nation not having to confront their existence beyond pedantic Memorial Day speeches and shoes removed at the airport. We have been told to submit and then submit again and not to ask "Why?" because such questions will naturally lead to the terrorists winning. And so we don't ask. And because we don't ask, it's assumed that we don't care. And if we don't care, then why should we be informed of what's occurring? It's the tautology of manufactured apathy.
The other thing the Rude Pundit has heard is "I don't do anything wrong. Why should I worry?" He wonders how those who say such things know. Because, see, one of the upsetting aspects of this whole series of revelations is that we don't know the rules of the game. We're told that the rules have to remain secret so that we don't tip off the enemies. But in that case, everyone is merely a potential enemy. How is that a rational way for a population to exist? How does that comport with the putative "exceptionalism" of our democracy?
Tell us some shit, for fuck's sake. The secrecy is ultimately destructive to our quaint notions of liberty. You say that this program has stopped a terrorist attack? Prove it. Tell us how. Put the fuck up or shut the fuck up. And tell us how stopping that attack would not have been possible if it hadn't been for Booz Allen geeks wondering if one's online visits to Burqa Babe Bukkake is for blowing up buildings or blowing loads.
One last note for now: Obama owns this, from the National Security Agency's collection of phone records to the data mining being done online by the FBI and NSA. Sure, you can get pissed off at George W. Bush for the Patriot Act, but Obama reauthorized it in 2011 (with a majority of House Democrats voting against it). We on the left are right to blame Bush for many of the ills brought about that this president has had to deal with. Not this, though.
The Rude Pundit doesn't buy the whole "Obama is as bad as Bush" bullshit floating around. When Obama starts an illegal war, authorizes torture, and crashes the economy, we can talk. But the institutionalizing of mass data gathering in order to spy on Americans? Yeah, that's part of Obama's legacy.