When listening to journalists’ immediate comments after the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 11 September 2001, one could only expect that the world would change forever. Of course, all of us feared long-lasting war with the Islamic world, in particular having a former alcoholic and born-again Christian and crusader sitting in the White House. When George W. Bush struck Afghanistan couple of weeks later, that time, under the world-wide shock of 9-11, with a broad coalition, it was very clear that dumb retaliation was his main motivation, not so much the capture of the assault’s masterminds who might have fled already to neighboring Pakistan (where bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEAL almost a decade later). Let alone building wells and girl schools as was told the public in Germany when its soldiers were sent on a mission which was called a war only in 2010.
As the war went on for a decade and half, setting the whole Middle East on fire, the anti-war movement grew world-wide. But did anybody expect an Orwellian surveillance state developing? Well, there were early warnings, of course.
What essentially shaped much of domestic and foreign politics (after the financial meltdown of 2007/08 and the Eurozone crisis) in the present decade were the massive leaks by Chelsea Manning providing just a glimpse of what was really going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and U.S. American Embassies around the world; and those of Edward Snowden whose leaks have unmasked tactis and means of huge, unelected spying organizations in the U.S. and UK of, well, Orwellian dimension. And they have shown us the true colors of a Peace Nobel Prize awardee whose numerous noble speeches turned out to be rubbish. A useless presidency of someone once regarded nothing but a new messiah.
There are still claims that NSA mass surveillance has made the world a safer place after the terror attacks causing about 3000+ casualties (to be compared with millions of killed and displaced people including the new civil wars in the Middle East). But these claims are heavily questioned meanwhile. The world-wide panopticon via internet and mobile comunication (Jeremy Benthem who had actually invented it, had, it is said, quite noble intents) has only one aim: total control of all citizens. Earlier attempts were made by Nazi (Gestapo) and Communist Germany (Stasi) and Stalinist USSR. And it’s no wonder that the totalitarian surveillance state turns against those who have courageously exposed it, Convicted Chelsea Manning being locked-up for 35 years in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange having got stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, UK, since August 2012; Edward Snowden in an undisclosed place having been granted asylum in Russia; and Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in unintended exile in Rio de Janeiro and Berlin, respectively.
The War against Terror, which President Obama had proclaimed to end during his term, has all of the sudden turned into a war on journalists who had dared to report on troves of leaks exposing its highly questionable collateral damages. And while he threw down the gauntlet for only one purpose, intimidation, they picked it up.
Glenn Greenwald, who describes his new magazine The Intercept (of Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media enterprise) as “fearless, adversarial journalism”, has exposed, from Edward Snowden’s archive of leaks, the abject mindset of employees of the British counterpart of NSA, the GCHQ (public servants after all) who actually teach their collaborators “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations”, another document by the GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group which had been presented to the NSA as well as spy organizations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand (the so-called “Five Eyes Alliance”). Given the fact that internet usage and mobile communication of all of us is monitored meanwhile and it is not clear who is “the target to be discredited”, the document on “The Art of Deception” is a war declaration on all citizens. It is of course about sex (“Set up a honey trap”) and defamation (“Write a blog purporting to be one of their victims”; “Email/text their colleagues, neighbours, friends etc”). It is about infiltrating computers with viruses and other malware. It is about “The 4 D’s: Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive.” As Greenwald writes, “these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.”
I want to go further: this seems to be outright state terrorism. Can new media enterprises ever fight it? We’ll see. At least, Manning’s and Snowden’s leaks may be regarded later as a turning point. A last chance to abrogate a development which has been foreseen by George Orwell in 1949. It didn’t happen in 1984. It happened more or less unnoticed somewhat later. It took about 30 years that people became aware of it.
The internet was just a tool for a desired panopticon. It was never meant to enhance democracy.25 February 2014 @ 10:15 am. Last modified February 25, 2014.