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Response to Leopolds Ghost (Original post)

Fri Sep 20, 2013, 04:58 PM

10. Given so few replies and I don't know if anyone clicked on the link, I'll post the preview here.



From the blog in the OP:

(snip) ...a free showing of the original 2011 FRONTLINE documentary “Top Secret America: The Hidden Legacy of 9/11.” The documentary is based on the seminal 2010 Washington Post series reported by Dana Priest and William Arkin.

The event is the latest documentary showing to provide context for the ongoing revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the challenges the NSA and other agencies pose to civil liberties. (Others have included “War on Whistleblowers”) The movie will be followed by a discussion updating viewers on the latest revelations about NSA/FBI surveillance practices and the “black budget” for intelligence operations.

While the report naturally focuses on the actions of Bush administration officials, it also makes important points about the way “Top Secret America” has eluded and/or corrupted control by their successors in the Obama administration. Bush administration CIA lawyer John Rizzo:

“With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.”

Call it what you will — “Top Secret America,” the “national security state,” the “surveillance state” — is deeply entrenched and seems to be growing beyond the capacity of any person to even understand it, let alone control it. Dana Priest is pessimistic; pointing to the sheer amount of construction involved, she remarked:

…if you really think about what a building is, and the symbol for me of looking at the buildings is that these are permanent; they’re here to stay. It’s not like they’ve got mobile trailers that they’re up in, and then when the floods recede they’re going to take them away. These are gigantic edifices that are going to stay here. So it will be very difficult for anybody politically to rein that in.

Difficult, surely, but not impossible — and highly necessary. Secrecy and fear are the natural enemies of accountability, the rule of law, and meaningful democracy. It’s time for Americans to decide: which side are you on?

“The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”

For more “Top Secret America” material, visit the Washington Post or PBS/FRONTLINE web pages.

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