Progressive hero Noam Chomsky is terrified of the surveillance state that has developed during the tenure of President Barack Obama, calling it a grave threat to our fundamental civil liberties.
In a column published Monday, Chomsky writes that the documents revealed to the public by Edward Snowden show a system that is flagrantly violating the principles of the Constitution.
“It is of no slight import that the project is being executed in one of the freest countries in the world, and in radical violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which protects citizens from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures,’ and guarantees the privacy of their persons, houses, papers and effects,” Chomsky said.
“Much as government lawyers may try, there is no way to reconcile these principles with the assault on the population revealed in the Snowden documents.”
The scope and depth of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program is what particularly troubles the retired MIT professor and leads him to conclude that our current president is set on undermining the foundations of our society.
“The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus — in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society,” Chomsky wrote. “As the colossus fulfills its visions, in principle every keystroke might be sent to President Obama’s huge and expanding databases in Utah.”
“In other ways too, the constitutional lawyer in the White House seems determined to demolish the foundations of our civil liberties. The principle of the presumption of innocence, which dates back to Magna Carta 800 years ago, has long been dismissed to oblivion.”
All this adds up to a system that George Orwell would’ve been incapable of envisioning as “Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.”
And like the totalitarian government in “1984,” this apparatus is designed — in Chomsky’s opinion — to defend state power from the threat of an unruly domestic population and make transparency a one-way street between the government and its private citizens.
“Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim,” the professor concludes. “In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.”