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Edward Snowden and the Corruption of Morals and Values

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The vilification of Edward Snowden by U.S. officials and their spokesmen in the mainstream press reflects perfectly the extent to which the national-security state apparatus, which was foisted on America’s governmental system after World War II and without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, has warped and perverted fundamental morals and values.

After all, what exactly has Snowden done to deserve condemnation? He’s revealed to the American public (and the people of the world) a super-secret, massive governmental surveillance program that under normal circumstances would be considered the hallmark of a totalitarian regime. In fact, can anyone name me any totalitarian regime in the last 100 years or so, including the model totalitarian regime, Nazi Germany, that has not entailed a massive surveillance scheme on the citizenry?

Any normal person would be saying thank you to Edward Snowden. But people whose hearts and minds have been corrupted by the two most important words in the lives of the American people in our lifetime — “national security” — are unable to see things that way. To them, by revealing the NSA’s surveillance scheme to the public, Snowden has jeopardized “national security.” He broke the rules and oaths of the national-security state and that’s all that matters. He’s now got to pay for his “crime” with incarceration, torture, and possibly execution.

Never mind that not one of these statists is able to define with any specificity the term “national security.” What happens when a nation is insecure? Is it in danger of falling into the ocean? Does it mean that communists might take over the public schools? Or that terrorists might end up controlling the IRS? Does it mean that the entire federal government is in danger of falling apart?

Who knows what it means? All that anyone can say with any certainty is that it is a term that has been used to cover up federal wrongdoing ever since the national-security state — i.e., the standing army, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA — became a permanent part of America’s governmental structure as part of the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Consider MKULTRA, the CIA’s super-secret project involving drug experiments on unsuspecting Americans. I know that national-security statists hate when anyone compares their programs to those of Nazi Germany, but let’s face it: The Nazis would have loved MKULTRA and would have been proud to be part of it. In fact, weren’t some of the Nazi scientists who the U.S. national-security state hired after World War II involved in MKULTRA?

The CIA knowingly and intentionally destroyed its records on the program when information about its existence leaked out. “National security” would be jeopardized, they said, if the American people were to know all the horrors committed during MKULTRA in the name of protecting “national security.” I don’t know who leaked the information about MKULTRA but I do know this: Whoever it was would have been as condemned and vilified as Edward Snowden. After all, what greater threat to “national security” than a person who reveals a super-secret drug-experiment program on unsuspecting Americans? That’s at least as bad, if not worse, than Snowden’s revelations, at least insofar as “national security” is concerned.

And, hey, let’s not forget all those regime-change operations involving coups, murders, and assassinations. They were also done in the name of the much ballyhooed term “national security.”

Iran, where the CIA fomented a coup that ousted the democratically elected prime minister and replaced him with a brutal, unelected dictator and then proceeded to train his forces in the art of torture and tyranny. We’re still living with the adverse effects of that one more than 50 years after the event.

Guatemala, where the CIA engineered the ouster of the democratically elected president of the country and replaced him with a succession of brutal pro-U.S. military dictatorships, precipitating a civil war that lasted decades and killed more than a million people.

South Vietnam, where the CIA supported a military coup that resulted in the murder of the president of the country, who happened to be a friend and ally of the U.S. national-security state.

Chile, where the CIA fomented an economic crisis with the aim of supporting a brutal military coup, which brought about the arrest, incarceration, torture, rape, or execution of thousands of innocent people, including two innocent Americans who were killed with the complicity of the U.S. national-security state.

Oh, but it’s all considered moral and good because it was all done in the name of “national security” by the national-security state branch of the U.S. government.

One of the best examples of the corrosive effect that the national-security state has had on the morals and mindset of the American people involves Cuba. More than fifty years of a cruel and brutal embargo that has caused untold suffering for the Cuban people. Under what justification? Oh, “national security” of course. If the Cuban embargo wasn’t in existence, “national security” would be jeopardized. Oh, really? And how is that? No one can ever answer that question. In fact, it’s considered heresy to even ask the question.

Has Cuba ever engaged in any aggression against the United States? No. Not one iota of aggression. From the start of the Castro regime, it has always been the U.S. national-security state that has been the aggressor. It was the U.S. national-security state that attacked and invaded the island, despite its best efforts to disguise its participation at the Bay of Pigs. It was the U.S. national-security state tried repeatedly to assassinate Castro. It was the U.S. national-security state that engaged in terrorist attacks on the island.

But no one is supposed to question any of this. We’re all supposed to just put our heads down, nod and affirm, and defer to the authority of the national-security state. We’re all supposed to just believe that it’s all necessary to protect “national security.”

In fact, any American who did question this immoral conduct was himself placed under close surveillance as a potential threat to “national security,” long before the NSA’s massive surveillance scheme came to light. Recall, for example, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, the national organization in the 1960s that was devoted to ending the U.S. national-security state’s acts of aggression against Cuba, especially the embargo.

Why, that organization was obviously a threat to “national security” under the paranoid mindset that guides national-security statists. They were convinced that it was nothing more than a Fifth Column for the Soviet and Chinese communists who were coming to America and taking over the Congress, the IRS, and the Interstate Highway System. That’s why the organization became a target of the CIA, the FBI, and no doubt the military too.

Never mind that the First Amendment guaranteed the right to be a communist, socialist, fascist, imperialist, or any other type of statist and also advocate for the end of U.S. aggression against foreign nations. When it comes to “national security,” basic moral principles become inverted. The world of right and wrong is turned upside down. Tyranny becomes freedom, at least when it’s cloaked within the sacred term “national security.”

It’s time for Americans to do some deep soul-searching about their Cold War-era national-security state and about basic moral principles and the principles of a free society. The Edward Snowden controversy provides a perfect place to start. In the course of that soul-searching process, people need to be asking the important question: Does a national-security state apparatus have any place in a genuinely free society?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.