Unedited version of Aamer’s column for Scottish Sun on Sunday 16th June 2013
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever” George Orwell wrote this in his book ‘1984’ whose message is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1949.
Orwell’s chilling vision was of a future where Big Brother rules society with an iron fist, waging perpetual war against an enemy that was everywhere, persecuting anyone who expressed individuality as thought crime. Children were taught to spy on their parents and all of big brother’s actions were for the ‘greater good’.
Technology allowed everyone to be spied on round the clock and the Ministries of Truth, Love, Plenty and Peace routinely engaged in propaganda, torture, brainwashing, famine and war.
This week 29 year old US spy Edward Snowden sensationally revealed from a hideout in Hong Kong that the United States was able to intercept almost every form of human communication and that everything was being recorded and stored.
The American National Security Agency NSA for whom he worked was accused of accessing servers of internet firms including Facebook and Google by using a programme called Prism to ‘access emails, web chats and other communications’.
The companies denied giving such access, whilst our own UK spy agency GCHQ was accused of using the US to snoop on British citizens.
Snowden had been working for Booz Allen, a multi-billion dollar private contractor which spies on behalf of the US, but he walked away from a comfortable salary of $200,000 a year to become a whistle blower.
He thought it wrong that he had authority ‘to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the President’ and all he needed was your personal email.
Snowden wasn’t a top CIA agent, but a high school drop-out, who began life as a security guard with the NSA, working his way up to become a computer assistant.
Overnight though Snowden has become one of the world’s most wanted men, liable to ‘kidnap’ by the CIA, destined to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
The US claims he put national security at risk but Snowden’s real crime is that he has exposed unwarranted intrusion into our lives on a global scale.
William Hague claims that “law abiding citizens have nothing to fear”. How reassuring, but we’ve heard similar grand statements before over death squads, shoot to kill, WMD, drone assassinations, illegal wars, rendition and torture.
The danger is not that you have ‘nothing to fear’ if you have done nothing wrong, but if you ‘should ever fall under suspicion’, step out of line your past computer footprint could be used to blackmail, discredit or destroy you.
As a society which cannot survive without mobile phones or Facebook we are being brainwashed into an obsession with the culture of celebrity. The consequence is that many of us are more likely to be agitated about the size of Kim Kardashian’s bum than the invasion of our privacy.
President Obama defending the United States stated “you can complain about Big Brother.. but when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance.”
But when Snowden eventually faces charges of treason and aiding the enemy, we should ask who the enemy is?
Like George Orwell’s 1984, the words of the founding father of the United States- Benjamin Franklin are as equally relevant today “those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
GET YOUR BREASTS OUT FOR FREEDOM?
Three European, female activists who painted their breasts with slogans and protested topless outside the Tunisian Palace of Justice were sentenced this week to four months in prison having been charged with indecency.
Their organisation Femen called on the world ‘to stand up for the brave freedom fighters!‘
But if they really intended to reach out to Tunisian women why not paint slogans on their breasts in Arabic rather than English?
I’m also not sure how getting your breasts out for the lads salivating outside the court is striking a blow for feminism. The activists are upset at getting the jail but what did they think would happen?
It’s not as though we allow the Naked Rambler to wander about our streets. All they succeeded in doing was cheapen the message of Arab women in the front line of the Arab Spring who are still fighting for the right to be treated equally and not as sex objects.
The activists may have received worldwide fame, but I suspect that was all this was about (plus making money)
SALES OF GOODS ACT
I see the BBC reporting that a Birmingham man dialled 999 to complain about a prostitute’s looks and report her for ‘breaching the Sales of Goods Act.’ Luckily for the Muppet he wasn’t charged by the police for soliciting for sex or wasting their time. I wonder if any of my profession would take his case on?