How to Be a Rogue Superpower
The “Enemy-Industrial Complex” Is Thriving On Your Anxiety, Fear, and Compliance.
It's a daunting task just to comprehend the magnitude of the situation: An employee affiliated with a private contractor working alongside the NSA has absconded with an undisclosed quantity of files concerning America's covertly expanding global security apparatus. These sensitive documents are stored on a thumb drive and four laptop computers. Without hesitation, the individual boards the next available flight to Hong Kong, motivated by a singular objective: to unveil a vast surveillance network that was clandestinely constructed in the shadows during the post-9/11 era, with a notable focus on American citizens. Some of these classified materials found their way into the hands of filmmaker Laura Poitras, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and the Washington Post.
The response that follows is nothing short of extraordinary: an “international manhunt” (or more conciliatorily, a comprehensive diplomatic effort) carried out not by Interpol or the United Nations, but by the world's sole superpower—the very government whose covert operations the leaker was determined to expose.
But there's an additional layer to this story. The leaker, a technologically adept young individual, strategically curates the NSA files at their disposal. They selectively release only those documents they believe are essential for the American public to scrutinize, thus igniting a comprehensive dialogue about the unprecedented clandestine world of surveillance, largely funded by taxpayers. In other words, this is no indiscriminate “document dump.” Their intent is to incite change while avoiding harm.
Here's the twist: the leaker is acutely aware of previous instances involving whistleblowers, the punitive measures their government has taken against them, and the ominous fate that may await them. Consequently, we now understand that they have encrypted the entire set of files they possess and placed them in one or more secure locations, accessible only by unidentified individuals—individuals whose identities to this day remain a mystery—if they should ever fall into the custody of the United States.
In essence, ever since Edward Snowden initially released confidential documents, it was evident that he wielded control over how much of the NSA's hidden world would be unveiled. Despite this, the decision was made to pursue him relentlessly—capturing him, imprisoning him, putting him on trial, and throwing away the key—ignoring the likely consequence of escalating, rather than diminishing, the release of such documents. The Obama administration and representatives of the secretive establishment undertook this pursuit on a global scale, seemingly without precedent. They didn't consider the potential future embarrassment or seem deterred by potential resentment from their heavy-handed tactics on numerous foreign governments.
The outcome has unfolded as a worldwide spectacle and sparked (at least for a while) a global discussion about the surveillance practices of the United States and its allies. Since the revelations went public, Washington has displayed unwavering determination, a thirst for vengeance, and an unyielding stance. It has employed coercion, threats, and intimidation against both major and minor powers. Essentially, it has made a commitment that Edward Snowden will never find safety anywhere on this planet during his lifetime. Yet, it is worth noting the glaring fact that, thus far, the world's mightiest power has failed to apprehend him and is losing the battle for public opinion on a global scale.
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