16 April 2015
Glenn Greenwald on Shadow Government
Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a
Single-Superpower World, Tom Engelhardt. Haymarket Books. Kindle
It was more than a year ago that I was first contacted by National Security
Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. He contacted me by email. He was anonymous.
I had no idea who he was. He didnt say much. He simply said he had
what he thought would be some documents I would be interested in looking
at, which turned out to be the worlds largest understatement of the
When I asked Snowden how he got himself to the point where he was willing
to take the risk that he knew he was taking, he told me that for a long time
he had been looking for a leader, somebody who would come and fix these problems.
And then one day he realized that theres no point in waiting for a
leader, that leadership is about going first and about setting an example
for others. He decided he simply didnt want to live in a world where
the US government was permitted to have such extraordinary powers and to
build a system that had as its goal the destruction of all individual
privacythat he could not in good conscience stand by and allow that
to happen knowing that he had the power to help stop it.
The goal of the US surveillance state is to make sure that there is no such
thing as actual human privacy, not just in the United States but in the world.
Thats its intent. It does that by design. What we are really talking
about is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication
from taking place without being stored and monitored by the National Security
Agency. Its not just journalists but also dissident groups and Muslim
communities that have been infiltrated and monitored. The government is
deliberately working to create a climate of fear in exactly those communities
that are most important in checking those in power.
I really dont think theres any more important battle today than
combating the surveillance state. Ultimately, the thing that matters most
is that the rights that we know we have as human beings are rights that we
exercise. The only way those rights can ever be taken away is if we give
in to the fear that is being deliberately imposed on our world. You can
acculturate people to believing that tyranny is freedom, and that as a
consequence their limits are actually liberties. That is what this surveillance
state does, by training people to accept their own conformity so they no
longer even realize the ways in which theyre being limited.
As Rosa Luxemburg once said, He who does not move does not notice his
chains. The point of Tom Engelhardts important work at
TomDispatch.com and in Shadow
Government is to help us find the way to break those chains.