"The war between state power and those holding it to account needs constant refreshment."


Thu, Aug 22nd, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

With UK and US upset that "Snowden not only managed to blow the whistle on this century's most nefarious privacy violations, but he also figured out how to remain free", The Guardian's Simon Jenkins warns of "the destructive power of the state" and that "the press must not yield to this intimidation."

Two great forces are now in fierce but unresolved contention. The material revealed by Edward Snowden through the Guardian and the Washington Post is of a wholly different order from WikiLeaks and other recent whistle-blowing incidents. It indicates not just that the modern state is gathering, storing and processing for its own ends electronic communication from around the world; far more serious, it reveals that this power has so corrupted those wielding it as to put them beyond effective democratic control. It was not the scope of NSA surveillance that led to Snowden's defection. It was hearing his boss lie to Congress about it for hours on end.

Last week in Washington, Congressional investigators discovered that the America's foreign intelligence surveillance court, a body set up specifically to oversee the NSA, had itself been defied by the agency "thousands of times". It was victim to "a culture of misinformation" as orders to destroy intercepts, emails and files were simply disregarded; an intelligence community that seems neither intelligent nor a community commanding a global empire that could suborn the world's largest corporations, draw up targets for drone assassination, blackmail US Muslims into becoming spies and haul passengers off planes.



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