This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I was not going to write anything about Snowden and the NSA because I assumed that everything that could be said had been in the hundreds (thousands?) of blogs about the situation.  However, I have not seen anyone who thinks that he is anything but a hero, an opportunist or a spy with an agenda. To me, the last comes closest to the truth. The difference between my theory and others I have read is that his agenda may not be the Machiavellian plot these conspiracy theorists assume it to be. Instead, it could be the best reason to hope that the firestorm Snowden ignited will actually shake things up in a way that no other whistleblower has.

 Look at the facts: He was with the CIA much longer than with the NSA. He clearly went into the job as an NSA consultant with a plan to acquire as much critical data as he could, and he managed to collect an amazing amount of key information in a short time.  To many (myself included), it seems clear that he is still working for the CIA, but what does that mean?  The theories I have seen all assume that he is either working for a foreign power such as Israel, engaged in interagency rivalry to embarrass the NSA, working for Israel to embarrass the US government, or even representing the interests of remnants of the Third Reich or Soviet Empire. At one point, a blogger suggested confidently that Snowden had been given the assignment of frightening Americans with the idea that “the government will get you” if you dare to tell the truth, as if they hadn’t already made the point with the witch hunt against whistleblowers that began during the Bush administration and that has mushroomed under Obama.  

I think we can rule out the last one. Snowden has made a mockery of the US ability to capture one lone leaker despite extraordinary efforts. How did he do it? Did I mention he has friends in the CIA?  It is important to recognize that the CIA as a whole does not work for the President to the extent that he challenges the corporate interest. If it did, Kennedy would have USSR and Cuba and we might not be facing the prospect of living through the creation of what could become a permanent fascist New World Order. However, those who pull the strings in the White House by virtue of their control of intelligence agencies and the military do not control every individual in either. If that were true, we would never have heard of Bradley Manning, Coleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, John Kiriakou and all the other whistleblowers who have risked their careers and even their lives to alert us to the dangers we face.

For each one of these brave men and women, there must be many others in the military and intelligence agencies who understand as they do that there is a difference between loyalty to the government and loyalty to the nation. Those who do surely recognize that blind obedience to the corrupt and out-of-control US government amounts to treason. How many are just waiting for a chance to make a difference, unwilling to sacrifice themselves until they believe they can?  Perhaps there are cells within the CIA and other intelligence agencies of patriots who told Snowden what information to take, what to do with it and how to evade capture. If so, that is the best possible news that those of us struggling to expose what is going on behind our backs in an increasingly secretive government, one that is openly curtailing our civil liberties while conducting wars and proxy wars against nations that do not submit to domination by the international corporations that dictate US foreign policy.

This obvious fact seems to have made little impression on a divided American citizenry who has yet to even realize that the two major parties are playing for the same team: the corporatocracy. It is no wonder that those of us who see the problem have developed a habit of expecting the worst, when things seem so hopeless. However, if my theory is right, it could be that the rules of the game have changed. For once, that works in our favor.  It looks like this case is not going away. People are genuinely angry that they are being spied upon in every electronic communication. The anger is not just in America, but throughout Europe and other allied nations. The fact that Europeans in general and Germans in particular are not going to let the matter go away is helping keep the issue in American consciousness.

Resistance is also growing in Congress. I am not the first one to point out that the vote to restrict NSA surveillance was bipartisan and very close, which is a major shift from the reflexive bipartisan support for every outrageous act committed by the government in the “War on Terror.” Looking at who voted against it is a very easy way to tell who is on our side and who is either too dimwitted to realize that it is just a smokescreen for a worldwide war on democracy and that America is part of the battlefield. Of course, some will say that view is too charitable, arguing that many if not most of those who continue to support NDAA, unlimited surveillance with no oversight and war without end are quite consciously choosing to support the explosive growth in power of those who profit from the military-industrial-government complex (as Eisenhower termed it before his advisors got to him). Either way, if we can keep the issue in the public mind until 2014, we may just be able to get rid of many of those who stand with the globalists who now control Congress and the White House and replace them with men and women who will begin to rein in a government that has become dangerous to its own people.

If it is true that members of the US government and military are beginning to organize to resist from within, it becomes apparent that what many have considered to be a pipe dream of taking control of their own government is possible. I would argue that it is only possible when such organizing takes place. I am sure that to these men and women, the lesson of what happened to those who resisted the growing police state in Nazi Germany is not lost. If they are organizing, they are not going to announce it. They will merely begin to act. I am convinced that even if this is not an example, such actions will not be long in coming. The more we encourage this, the more will feel emboldened to organize and act.

Obama promised us "the most transparent government in US history." Instead, we have seen a massive expansion of the use of the state secrets privilege, to the point of opting not to declassify thousands of sealed documents on the Kennedy assassination 50 years after the fact. The significance of this cannot be overestimated, given that even after the House Select Committee on Assassinations declared his death the result of a conspiracy, no serious government investigation has been done. In an effort to quiet those who would reveal evidence of ongoing crimes, Obama has invoked the Espionage Act eight times. The “Justice” Department is intimidating investigative journalists with mass surveillance while the Supreme Court strips them of immunity for refusing to reveal sources. Yes, I would agree that this is in fact the most transparent government in history, at least in terms of making no effort to conceal what it is doing. Those paying attention do not like what they see and for once, liberals and conservatives agree, at least those who are not blinded by loyalty to either of the corrupt members of the Duopoly.

At the risk of being accused of naiveté, I am still withholding judgment on Obama. Only someone blinded by rage could fail to see that if he seriously challenged the interests of the globalists who are pulling the strings of their puppets in Congress, the military and the intelligence agencies, it would be a simple matter to use the JFK solution, blaming the unfortunate tragedy on some lone racist nut. It is easy to say that if he were a real patriot, he would sacrifice himself, but I challenge those who hold this view to ask themselves if they would really willingly give up their lives to try to awaken citizens so easily manipulated. Americans are not only failing to rise in the streets in massive protest despite the examples of Egypt, Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere, but angrily decry those who do. For Obama to stick his neck out despite the obvious risk could be seen as being as desperate and ultimately futile as setting oneself on fire in a market in Tunisia, only to spark a revolution that in the end did nothing to relieve the conditions that led to such desperation.  He needs to know that we will be behind him and that a critical mass of key individuals in the government and military will stand beside him.

The government is made up of human beings. Most of them want to serve the People, even elected officials who have resigned themselves to fighting a defensive battle against fascism by at best, slowing its progression with occasional partial victories. It not only does no good to demonize them. This only reinforces their belief that they have to put the opinions of an easily manipulated public before what is right, or risk losing their office and the chance to continue the fight. They convince themselves that somehow they can still make a difference, even though this amounts to giving in to corporate interests every time they conflict with those of the public. This delusion is the result of the mindset that they can only do what is “politically possible,” and is characteristic of the Beltway mentality that refuses to admit that no one can serve two masters. It ignores the fact that what is possible in the current system is not enough. The system itself must be radically changed if we are ever to know democracy.

Fundamental change is possible. I would argue that it begins with a constitutional amendment that would reform campaign finance by establishing that money is not speech while abolishing corporate personhood, making it clear that corporations are not people and so have no constitutional rights. In fact, campaign finance reform might be sufficient. I realize this is heresy to many of the dedicated activists in Move to Amend, but I believe the only way to pass any amendment is to make it a litmus test for anyone who wants to serve in Congress. If we can elect a Congress willing to pass an amendment that effectively reforms campaign finance, it seems certain it would be willing to systematically address the other ways the corporatocracy has used to corrupt it.

Candidates willing to make a pledge to support such an amendment should challenge incumbents who voted to continue unrestricted spying on Americans, the NDAA and other repressive measures. They are certain to find support from voters across the ideological spectrum who are beginning to realize that we have to make establishing democracy our first priority. After all, nearly 80 percent of both self-identified conservatives and liberals are opposed to Citizens United, and many already agree that an amendment is needed to address it, If we can agree this is the first step in doing so, then we have a way to make our votes count. With this type of unanimity, election results cannot be manipulated and attempts at voter suppression become irrelevant. In agreeing to support only candidates who support an amendment, we free ourselves from the Hobson’s choice offered by the two corporate parties and can vote third party with no reservations in elections where they only give us a choice between two corporate candidates.

If the Pledge to Amend approach leads to campaign finance reform, we will finally have a chance to influence who our choices are to represent us not only in Congress, but the White House. While it is not likely that we will win a significant number of seats in Congress in 2014 through this strategy, a single victory against an entrenched incumbent using this strategy would prove the validity of the approach and encourage other candidates to run on the issue in future elections. It would also prove to the President that some of us were listening to him when he repeatedly told us that we have to be the change, because a man in his position sure as hell can’t do it without us.

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