British prime minister David Cameron is threatening to take action against British newspapers like The Guardian for publishing the Snowden leaks. He used as his excuse for such an action a newspaper report in which an anonymous security source had said that the leaks had hampered their terrorist investigations.
Cameron’s threat was pretty explicit, warning newspapers that if they did not cooperate with the government they would face consequences.
Meanwhile in the US, the Director on National Intelligence James Clapper and the director of the NSA Keith Alexander testified before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday and gave the ‘everybody spies on everybody so what is all the fuss about?’ defense. They also took the tack of being brave defenders of freedom being unfairly persecuted for doing their duty.
“As Americans, we face an unending array of threats to our way of life. We need to sustain our ability to detect these threats,” he said.
Months of leaks from Snowden are already “affecting our ability to conduct intelligence and keep our country safe,” he said.
Alexander struck a similar note in his testimony.
“It is much more important for this county that we defend this country and take the beating than it for us to give up a program that would prevent this nation from being attacked,” he said.
Given that both of them have shown themselves to be either brazen liars or people who have made a fine art of twisting language to, in George Orwell’s memorable words, “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”, what point is there in asking them give testimony. Why even swear them in since there is no penalty for lying?
At some point, I would like someone to ask these people exactly how ‘our way of life’ is being threatened by the terrorist they are supposedly defending us from. What exactly are the things we normally do in our lives that are under threat and that we now are afraid to do?
On the other hand, many of us now feel the pressure to encrypt our communications and be wary of where we go and what we do on the internet. All these real changes to ‘our way of life’ are not because of the terrorists but because of the actions of these so-called defenders of it.