July 20, 2013

Yay, Transparency!

To think that only two days ago, I wrote: "[J]ust as was true of the deliberately 'leaked' stories about the State's Murder Program and Kill List, the ultimate effect [of the surveillance revelations] will be resignation, acceptance and even, in some cases, enthusiastic approval. As the murderer in my story says: 'we decided the publicity was a great advantage.'"

Now this news:
The U.S. government said on Friday a secret court that oversees intelligence activities granted its request to continue a telephone surveillance program - one of the two data collection efforts leaked by former security contractor Edward Snowden.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, said its authority to maintain the program expired on Friday and that the government sought and received a renewal from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs.

A top official said earlier on Friday that intelligence officials were working to declassify information on the programs that Snowden had already partially disclosed.
So the government's massive surveillance program has been renewed by the superduper secret court -- but we know all about it now. Some critics will strenuously object, saying that details of this kind alone aren't what they mean by transparency. They want to know more of the inner workings of what the government is doing, and the legal reasoning on which it bases its activities. But the story indicates that the government is diligently working to provide that sort of additional information. Imagine that, some months from now, we have been told a great deal about the State's surveillance activities, and the State has released all the legal memos justifying that surveillance. And all the surveillance programs continue exactly as before. Would that make you feel better?

Thanks to the State's own PR program, which it undertook because of its great pride in its enthusiastic willingness to kill anyone in the world on the basis of non-existent evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever, you know lots and lots about its Murder Program and Kill List. Does that make you feel better?

The endless harrumphing about the critical importance of "transparency" is one of the more ridiculous fetishes on the part of many of the State's critics, and especially as voiced by many "dissidents." A monstrous criminal, who rapes, tortures and murders an endless number of people -- women, men and children -- tells us all about his crimes and how and why he commits them. He continually manages to elude the authorities, and he goes right on committing his heinous crimes. But we know every single detail about what he's doing and why. Explain to me why that represents some kind of moral improvement.

I've been over this ground before. I was writing about the Murder Program, but these general principles also apply to the State's surveillance activities:
But about the question of oversight, and the related pleas for "accountability" and "transparency": keep in mind what the Murder Program is. The executive branch claims that it can murder anyone it chooses anywhere in the world, for any reason it wishes. Someone needs to explain to me how oversight, accountability and transparency will make such a program better. But they can't explain that -- because it cannot be done. A program that is evil in the manner the Murder Program is evil cannot be "improved," or "managed" so as to make it decent and humane. The Murder Program is an abomination. You don't "fix" abominations of this kind. You end them. You end them this very moment. As I said about this issue last November:
Evil does not become less evil because people are "open" about it. It is not miraculously transformed into good through some mysterious process of alchemy. Evil becomes only worse, infinitely worse. ...

So if certain "critics" of the Murder Program get what they want, the State will be blessedly open about its programs devoted to evil. It will torture and murder regularly, perhaps every day, but in broad daylight, with all of us watching.

And a lot of people will be very pleased indeed. Pleased, hell. They'll be goddamned thrilled.
With regard to the State's Murder Program, its surveillance activities, and every other means by which the State seeks to subjugate and control all of us, I am not the least interested in oversight, accountability or transparency. I want all such programs and activities to stop. That's it. I want them to stop.

But you mark my words: the State will make additional, continuing efforts to be more "transparent." Many of the State's alleged "critics" will herald this important change in how the State functions. The "critics" will trumpet their victory, and talk endlessly about how this proves the importance of "constructive engagement" with the State.

And while the State is being so blessedly transparent, it will not only continue all its present programs: it will expand them -- but now with a touch of transparency added. The programs will expand and get progressively worse, and any criticisms that are still to be heard will steadily grow softer and more infrequent.

The State is far better at this game than its critics. The State knows all about providing a sufficient illusion of oversight and transparency to satisfy those critics -- while the State proceeds to do precisely what it wanted to do all along.

So now you are beginning to know more about the evils perpetrated by the State. Bully for you. Hoofuckingray.