The blue cheddar household finally got around to watching all 114 minutes of Frontline’s recently aired documentary on the NSA, “United States of Secrets“.
I know about the high points of this story through articles yet there is nothing like seeing into the eyes of people telling their story on-camera.
And there is nothing like General Michael Hayden’s slight smile – the subtle smirk of the general in charge of an all-seeing and knowing international spy program who sleeps with a framed photo of J. Edgar Hoover under his pillow. (OK. I made up that photo part. But you know what I mean.)
The dreadful overarching story Frontline tells would be unbearable if it did not include the voices of earnest people who did what they could on the inside. Those people are William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis, Diane Roark, Thomas Tamm, J.Kirk Wiebe.
These are people of conscience. Heroes. We learn through their comments that there are – or were – even more people inside the agency feeling very alarmed that spy machines got trained on American citizens.
Moments from this documentary are still flashing in my brain.
I’m still thinking about the UNCLASSIFIED documents that Drake released to a reporter that would later be stamped “CLASSIFIED” by — who? the FBI? NSA? As if adding that stamp would make it so and Drake could be sent to prison. As if Hayden’s authority could be extended to all corners of reality and even in a retroactive fashion if needed.
I’m also still thinking about the steely nerve of reporter James Risen and the spongy spine of New York Times editor Bill Keller. And the so-called “liberal” owners of the New York Times, the Sulzberger family. Excuse me but – what is WRONG with them? They would never have printed Risen’s story if not for the fact that he had a book in-progress which included that chapter: “The Program”. The New York Times had to be shamed into performing as a newspaper. But that shaming happened AFTER Bush’s 2004 election. What would have happened to Bush in ’04 if the New York Times hadn’t been such a servile rag?
And there is Obama. On the 2008 campaign trail there were promises of transparency and praise for whistle blowers and promises not to wiretap citizens.
Watch it. In fact, watch it with somebody else. That way you can compare notes and talk about the film in person. Because you might not feel like chatting online after. Talking online right after this film could feel like jumping in the ocean right after watching Jaws.
FYI, part two is coming up next week Tuesday May 20th entitled, “How Silicon Valley Feeds the NSA’s Global Dragnet”.
A footnote on those who hate and hound Snowden and Greenwald:
This tale now has many human faces. Clearly numerous people questioned the plan to turn the NSA into an agency of digital omniscience in the beginning and they still do. The resistance to what NSA hath wrought goes well beyond the two men Obama loyals love to hate: Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.
Will those who deeply genuflect to Obama now attempt to smear all of the patriots identified in this film? Would they go even farther and advocate for the creation of a great catalog of names of those in the general population who refuse to fall in line with them – – something akin to what True the Vote did to Wisconsinites who signed the recall against Walker? Maybe I suggest too much of a scheme here. What I’m saying is just how far are they willing to take this? How much madness is in these modern day Obama-defined “liberals”?