NSA

"Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans": The Late Michael Hastings' Last

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big brother is watching you

The energetic and powerful young journalist Michael Hastings, most famous for his reporting on the follies of our Afghanistan intervention, who died yesterday in a car crash in Los Angeles went out with an interesting and iconclastic (especially for a guy known for his Rolling Stone reporting) piece for Buzzfeed attacking the Democrats on privacy issues.

revealed the entire caste of current Democratic leaders as a gang of civil liberty opportunists, whose true passion, it seems, was in trolling George W. Bush for eight years on matters of national security…..

Many….Dems — including the sitting President Barack Obama, Senator Carl Levin, and Sec. State John Kerry — have now become the stewards and enhancers of programs that appear to dwarf any of the spying scandals that broke during the Bush years, the very same scandals they used as wedge issues to win elections in the Congressional elections 2006 and the presidential primary of 2007-2008….

Now, we're about to see if the Obama administration's version of the national security state will begin to eat itself.

Unsurprisingly, the White House has dug in, calling their North Korea-esque tools "essential" to stop terrorism, and loathe to give up the political edge they've seized for Democrats on national security issues under Obama's leadership….

Outside of Washington, D.C., the frustration that [Democratic Senators who have been properly alarmed] Wyden and Udall have felt has been exponentially magnified. Transparency supporters, whistleblowers, and investigative reporters, especially those writers who have aggressively pursued the connections between the corporate defense industry and federal and local authorities involved in domestic surveillance, have been viciously attacked by the Obama administration and its allies in the FBI and DOJ.

Jacob Appplebaum, a transparency activist and computer savant, has been repeatedly harassed at American borders, having his laptop seized. Barrett Brown, another investigative journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, among others publications, exposed the connections between the private contracting firm HB Gary (a government contracting firm that, incidentally, proposed a plan to spy on and ruin the reputation of the Guardian's Greenwald) and who is currently sitting in a Texas prison on trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous.

That's not to mention former NSA official Thomas Drake (the Feds tried to destroys his life because he blew the whistle ); Fox News reporter James Rosen (named a "co-conspirator" by Holder's DOJ); John Kirakou, formerly in the CIA, who raised concerns about the agency's torture program, is also in prison for leaking "harmful" (read: embarrassing) classified info; and of course Wikileaks (under U.S. financial embargo); WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (locked up in Ecuador's London embassy) and, of course, Bradley Manning, the young, idealistic, soldier who provided the public with perhaps the most critical trove of government documents ever released.

The attitude the Obama administration has toward Manning is revealing. What do they think of him? "Fuck Bradely Manning," as one White House official put it to me last year during the campaign.

Screw Manning? Lol, screw us.

The answer to the title question is more or less: because they can.

My June 2012 interview with Hastings, whose journalism will be sorely missed.