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Edward Snowden: the best views on the spook who grassed up Obama

Pro-democractic legislator Claudia Mo holds a copy of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" next to a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama and Edward Snowden during a news conference in Hong Kong Friday, June 14, 2013. Two lawmakers in Hong Kong said on Friday that they had written to U.S. President Obama to try to persuade him not to bring charges against the former US intelligence contractor Snowden. Snowden revealed last weekend he was the source of a major leak of top-secret information on NSA surveillance, saying he was uncovering wrongdoing. He spoke to reporters from an undisclosed location in the semiautonomous Chinese territory of Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

DOCUMENTS leaked by US techy spook Edward Snowden show us that the US government is able to access details of smartphone and internet activity under a scheme called Prism. The allegation is that the US intelligence agencies have an open line to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and Apple. They also record all of your phone calls. The Guardian reprots that the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, has access to the data. This might explain why the taxes for so many big Internet firm are so low. The elite want to keep paying foreign companies for data on British citizens off the books.

 What does it all mean, though? We’ve picked out the best opinions on the news:

Mark Steyn:

Perhaps this is just the way it is in the panopticon state. Tocqueville foresaw this, as he did most things. Although absolute monarchy “clothed kings with a power almost without limits” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within the King’s oversight? Eric Holder and Lois Lerner now have that power. My comrade John Podhoretz, doughty warrior of the New York Post, says relax, there’s nothing to worry about. But how do I know he’s not just saying that because Eric Holder’s monitoring his OnStar account and knows that when he lost his car keys last Tuesday he was in the parking lot of Madam Whiplash’s Bondage Dungeon?

When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”

It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.

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Posted: 14th, June 2013 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, Technology | Comments (3)