Guardian Newspaper editor Alan Rusbridger provides chilling details showing Great Britain has become if anything a more frightening police surveillance state than the United States. His conclusion:
The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like “when”.
We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint. Those colleagues who denigrate Snowden or say reporters should trust the state to know best (many of them in the UK, oddly, on the right) may one day have a cruel awakening. One day it will be their reporting, their cause, under attack. But at least reporters now know to stay away from Heathrow transit lounges.
This is a subject near and dear to my heart, as I spent 20 years or so as an editor and reporter, sometimes an investigative reporter. I got into the business high on idealism shortly after Woodward and Bernstein broke open the Watergate scandal and hastened the end of a dangerous and power-drunk presidency.
But given the unfolding events surrounding the Edward Snowden affair, and the Executive Branch war against Americans’ constitutional rights, I suspect Barack Obama will take a seat in history very close to that of Richard Nixon.
To me, the biggest danger we face as a country is that so many Americans still are unaware that their rights have been stripped or, if at least vaguely aware, remain unconcerned.