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Big brother: dammed if we do, dead if we don’t
by David Farside
Jul 01, 2013 | 960 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the many things I wish I had growing up was a big brother. Whenever other kids my age, who had a big brother were bullied, picked on, needed help getting home through the ghetto or needed protection, they would always warn their attackers with the threat of the overused phrase, “I’ll get my big brother after you.”  

Usually it worked. Funny, though, these same kids always complained how their big brother always picked on them, squealed to their parents any time they got in trouble and made them go to school everyday. But for the protection they provided, it was worth it; very similar to our current surveillance program.

The recent computer hacking of our National l Security Agencies surveillance program by whistleblower Edward Snowden gave new meaning to the term “Big brother is watching you.” The connotation of skepticism, cynicism, distrust, political abuse of government power, paranoia, propaganda, loss of civil liberties and mass surveillance by the military, stemming from George Orwell’s’ novel 1984 is alive and well.

Surprisingly, President Jimmy Carter of all people, put the best spin on Snowden’s whistle blowing. Carter said he thought the secrecy of the Internet surveillance program has gone too far, “I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing.”

Carter noted that “He’s obviously violated the laws of America, for which he’s responsible” and “If the United States can acquire custody of him, I’m sure he will be brought to trial, and that’s the way the law should be implemented.” But the surprising quote from Carter was, “I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.” I wonder what he means by “beneficial?” Will it be beneficial for the government, the military or the civil liberties of the American people or all of the above?

Vice President Dick Cheney had his own take on Snowden. He thought Snowden was a Chinese spy and labeled him as a “traitor.” This coming from a man who lied about weapons of mass destruction, cost Americans billions fighting a war to protect his own oil interest  in Iraq and dragged G.W. BUSH around the Whitehouse lawn like a dog on a short leash. Talk about a possible traitor.

Before deadline Snowden’s father indicated he was trying to broker an arrangement with the government that could ultimately return his son back to the United States. His terms are simple: assurances he will not be held in prison before the trial; not subject to a gag order and be allowed to pick where he will be tried for federal espionage charges.

In a letter to the Justice Department, Lonnie Snowden said through his attorney that his son wanted “ironclad assurances” he would not be held in jail before trial or subjected to a gag order, and he would be allowed to choose where he would be tried on federal espionage charges. We know that will never happen.

Government acting as our protective big brother has to be trusted to find a balance between our collective homeland security and our personal civil rights. We may be dammed if he does, but we could all be dead if he doesn’t.

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.
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