Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says

Government exploits attacks on military to push security agenda, Greenwald says

The federal government is “shamelessly” exploiting last week’s extremist attacks to dismantle liberties and core principles of justice, says journalist Glenn Greenwald.

The Pulitzer-Prize winning U.S. reporter warned that the Conservative government, aided by docile news media, is purposely fuelling alarmist speculation about the domestic threat of Islamic terrorism to ram through legislation giving the state extraordinary new powers over citizens.

It remained unclear whether last Monday’s and Wednesday’s assaults were individual deranged acts of religious-inspired violence, or somehow the work of Islamic terror groups.

Yet, “we’ve allowed this word terrorism to take on such profound meaning that right before our eyes governments dismantle the protections and defining attributes of western justice in order to keep us safer,” Greenwald told an audience of more than 1,000 people in downtown Ottawa on Saturday night.

“It is critically important not to reflexively act (like) that every time there’s an attack.”

Greenwald, who last year broke international stories on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s stunning revelations about mass electronic surveillance of citizens by western governments, directed his criticism at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On Thursday, the day after gunman Micheal Zehaf-Bibeau killed National War Memorial sentry Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and then stormed Centre Block, Harper told the Commons new laws giving police more powers to surveil, detain and arrest suspected extremists are, “already underway and will be expedited.”

The legislation would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to track terror suspects abroad and provide blanket identity protection for the agency’s human sources. Conservatives now are hinting that even more powers are required to make pre-emptive arrests.

Greenwald lambasted Harper over what he characterized as a naked power grab.

“The speed and the aggression and the brazenness and the shamelessness with which the prime minister moved to manipulate and exploit the emotions around these events to demand more power for himself was almost impressive,” he said.

“These attacks are instantly seized upon as a way to further dismantle civil liberties and core principles of western justice.”

The accusations flow from Greenwald’s chief observation from the Snowden affair: Democracy is being gravely subverted by largely unaccountable and ultrasecret national security agencies under the guise of combating the bogeyman of global terrorism.

Led by the U.S. National Security Agency, where Snowden once worked, five western electronic intelligence-gathering agencies, including Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (along with counterparts in Britain, Australia and New Zealand) are allegedly monitoring people’s electronic communications and Internet lives — and behaviours — on a colossal scale, according the Snowden leaks.

“It is stunning that these five governments have instituted a system of mass surveillance as consequential, with such profound, far-reaching implications, without a whiff of disclosure or debate among the citizenry that are supposed to hold them democratically accountable,” said Greenwald.

“It’s not just about surveillance, but all sorts of other policies implemented in the name of terrorism that have existed beyond this wall of secrecy. It’s almost like a state within a state and one completely removed from transparency of any kind.

“The implications for democracy are incredibly profound and our ability as citizen to understand what our government is doing.”

Unless citizens rebel and demand transparency and accountability, Greenwald believes one ultimate consequence could be an endless war between the West, Muslim nations, and extremist movements.

“Future generations will look back and say that in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. and its allies put themselves in a mindset and a policy approach that guaranteed not only a long war but a war that had no end.

“The pattern is clear. We do something (militarily) in that part of the world that generates all sorts of rage and fury, rightly or wrongly. That rage and fury causes a tiny percentage of the people in that world to want to bring violence back to us.

“When the violence is brought back to us, we immediately demand that our government further erode civil liberties and we need even more militarism, which in turn inflames that part of the world more and causes more violence to be brought back to us in a never-ending spiral.”



Source : Montreal Gazette

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