So following Chelsea Manning’s leaks a few years ago, came Edward Snowden’s. For those who have been living under a rock or in an NSA internment cell for the past year or so, Snowden’s leaks exposed a huge global surveillance network systematically invading people’s personal lives on a daily basis in the name of national security. Although most of the documents that were released concerned the US, other countries’ secret documents have also been leaked, including some from Britain and Australia. GCHQ, a British Intelligence Agency didn’t take too kindly to having details of their activities released to the public, and issued a DA-Notice, advising editors at “the BBC and other media groups” not to release any more documents for vague reasons of national security. GCHQ agents later arrived at the guardian and supervised the destruction of the hard drives containing the documents.
Silencing – or at the very least, effectively silencing – the press shows an interesting double-standard on the part of those who carry out surveillance and surveillance apologists – why, if they should be able to see us, are we not allowed to see just what of ours is being looked at? Why must we stand in the corner facing the wall while our possessions are ransacked for anything deemed unwholesome? Why does the famous apology for invasions of privacy everywhere – “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” – not apply in this case? What do our governments fear so much that we can’t see them doing it?
Government is often a delicate balancing act between keeping things from the people, burdening the people down, and releasing necessary information to the people. If any of these things are much larger in magnitude than either of the other two, people are going to be pissed off, the third purely because it reveals the deception inherent in the other two. While it may be understandable under some circumstances not to reveal all the details, completely destroying files that are, for all intents and purposes, now in the public domain shows a different kind of fear, and that is one of losing grip on that greasy pole known as power.
There is nothing a political party wants less than to be out of power, and perhaps in their frenzied scurrying for the angle-grinders and drills, they showed a deeper secret than they ever intended. That what was on those drives was worth seeing, and would have posed a danger to them and their power, not national security. I wonder if Snowden has a backup copy…