NSA reform = PR stunt

All of your data belong to us!

All of your data belong to us!

Will the NSA’s reform actually drown out Snowden’s legacy?

Article: Ravinesh Sakaran – Contributor

Obama’s administration has enacted reforms to the National Security Agency (NSA), however the reforms are viewed largely as PR stunt according to famed journalist Glen Greenwald.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, he said, “The mission that [Obama] set when he created this review panel, when he started this process, was not to reform the NSA in any meaningful way. It was to restore public confidence, meaning to prettify the process to make it seem more palatable. It’s really just a PR gesture, a way to calm the public and make them think there’s reform when, in reality, there really won’t be.”

I have to agree with Greenwald. Whatever trust that I had in the Obama administration to preserve civil liberties and to maintain a vibrant liberal democracy was lost the day the Obama’s administration vehemently prosecuted tech prodigy and activist Aaron Swartz.

In my humble opinion, when a superpower like the US has access to insurmountable power to surveillance almost anyone on the planet, they will never let go of it. They will not resort to the old/ethical methods of intelligence gathering when they have been used to a much easier and comprehensive method by gathering mass phone and email data, which in my opinion is unconstitutional as it violates the 4th amendment: the right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches without probable cause.

Thus, Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing legacy will remain façade that did not bring upon any meaningful change. Recently, Snowden has gone on German TV, saying that the NSA is also involved in industrial espionage. He cited German engineering firm, Siemens to be one of the targets.

“If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US national interests, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security, they’ll take that information nevertheless,” Snowden said in the interview.

Snowden also talked about substantial threats on his life after leaking the documents, however Snowden remains upbeat that he did the right thing.

“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,” Snowden said.

According to the Guardian, Snowden was referring to a report on a US website that he said quoted anonymous US officials saying his life was in danger.

These allegations are appalling and frightening; it also goes to reaffirm my distrust in the Obama’s administration for change. Obama’s promise to protect whistleblowers when he ran for office in 2008 also seems to be nothing but an empty promise, not only for Edward Snowden, but also Chelsea Manning. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to Wikileaks.

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