I missed the beginning of this programme, ironically because I was online. I spend too much time online. I’ve nothing to hide. Well, nothing much to hide. Here you have it. Everybody has something to hide. We can laugh now at the old-fashioned-spy networks of neighbours spying upon neighbours. You keep expecting Michael Caine to pop up in a John Le Carre thriller. It’s funny. An Orwellian world. Everything you say and do censored by the invisible other. Perhaps in North Korea we think. Think again.
Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary follows Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald’s meeting with Edward Snowden in Communist Hong Kong and Communist Moscow. There we have it. Casting is destiny. The equivalent of Michel Caine going the wrong way through Checkpoint Charlie and back into East Germany. Edward Snowden is a spy both the CIA and FBI are on his trail. Here he tells us why.
It’s old new. Not very important. Not on any of the major channels, given a late television billing. Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency (NSA). He worked for NASA on software and as a solution consultant for the CIA. He’s white. A smart man. You can imagine he was very well paid and had an easy life. Yet he says ‘I believe in the rule of law’. He steals documents which were published by among others The Guardian which show clearly that the only law which matters is what a small elite group of believe to be in America’s interest. Angela Merkel the Chancellor of Germany’s phone, for example, was tapped. We can give a wry smile to that.
After all Angela Merkel isn’t American and she might have some connection with the 9/11 bombers that brought down the Twin Towers. The legislation brought in after 9/11 makes every non-America suspect. Patriots will understand that organisations such as the NSA will do everything necessary to protect the American people and American interests. Those Americans that don’t believe that are also suspect and they should be investigated. Nick Bostron in Superintelligence gives an example of machine logic. In its quest to create the perfect paper clip a computer takes control of the resources of the earth and its surrounding planets and produces nothing but paper clips because using a Bayesian algorithm nothing can ever be certain. The next paper clip might be the right one. In the same way Britain allows its ally to use its citizens and its resources to spy on others. All of the major corporation and hardware companies design their products so that NSA can gain access their data.
The metadata we produce leaves a clear pattern of what we do and who we are. It can be accessed remotely and content can also be read. Edward Snowden is saying that is not any kind of democracy he recognises. The NSA has files on 1.2 million Americans. Think of the resources needed. Think of the resources wasted. Operational overhang. Glen Greenwald was arrested and detained at Heathrow airport under the Detention of Terrorism Act. Obviously he’s suspect. That next paper clip might be the next one. That next paper clip might be you.