Abstract: Until “denial” is ended, apologies and reforms are not possible. Those in power have decided to defend the NSA spy programs. Forms of denial applied included justification, partial-admission-partial denial, blanket denial, killing the messenger, normalizing, victimhood of the aggressors, minimization, shifting responsibility and disqualifying proposed reforms. Despite the availability of proof of mass surveillance, repeated denials have protected spy programs from political change. Popular opposition of mass surveillance is strong and may surprise those who think that they have shaped reality through repeated denials. (Pew Study, 9.10.13)
Here are some articles proving mass surveillance from July of 2013:
Whenever malfeasance in government occurs, the first hurdle for reform is to acknowledge errors. The second phase in reform is to apologize to those harmed and the last is to come up with a plan of remedial action to prevent the malfeasance from happening again. None of the reforms can happen when persons in power commit to a strategy of denial.
A quick survey of sixty instances of denial about mass surveillance since June 18th, 2013 demonstrated different kinds of denial used in different frequencies. Here are the sets, starting with the most frequent types:
In ten instances of denial, the spy program was “justified” as necessary to prevent acts of terrorism and less frequently justified based upon legality or being constitutional.
In ten instances, the spy programs were “Partially Admitted t0-While Denying Recent Snowden Revelations”: Twice the programs were said to never having been abused, and twice that only foreign leaders were spied on, or only foreigners had been spied on, and that spying on foreign leaders was not a good idea. Other partial admissions that he program had problems involved setting up a privacy committee, instituting a tw0-analyst search system, and admissions that there were instances of overreach.
In eight cases, there were “blanket denials”, ranging from “no one is listening to your phone calls to “we don’t spy on Americans”, to telling a group of hackers at a conference that the NSA had no spying programs such as described by E. Snowden. NSA denied that it tapped servers in Europe, and denied that it collected GPS data.
In seven instances, the NSA mass surveillance program was denied using the defense of “normalization”: ranging from calling invasion of privacy ‘reasonable and lawful’ to ‘everybody does it’. To it is ‘constitutional’. One person alleged that all three branches of government approved of it.
In six instances, denial took the form of attacking Edward Snowden, or ‘killing the messenger’. DOJ charged him as a spy. Someone on npr called him a criminal, and said he was on the lamb. Name calling included being called paranoid and libertarian. Representative Rogers alleged he was working with Russians and called reporters his ‘accomplices’ and journalists reporting on national security issues, “thieves fencing stolen materials.”
In six instances, NSA or Tech companies portrayed themselves as “victims” of the revelations, of Press reporting, of trade repercussions, and of angered trade partners.
In five instances, denial was expressed through minimization of the spy programs. They were “only for bulk collection”, “only spied on foreigners”, “Just need to be reined in”, “have never been abused”, and “information about the NSA spying has been taken out of context.”
In four instances, denial was conveyed by shifting responsibility: This is the “we didn’t know”, “We were mislead”, “NSA ignored our warnings,”and NSA’s claim to Congress, “You approved this.” Even Tech companies thought it prudent to sue to appear that they were forced to collaborate with those they were now suing.
There were four instances of denial via disqualifying reforms. Obama refused to stop the program calling ending it ” a blunt approach”. NSA and FISA staff quickly asserted that changes were “not practical”.
Most marginal were the forms of denial which deceived by burying readers in minutiae, a kind of information diarrhea. Also calling would be reformers, “Promoters of Islamic Jihad” and punishing other nations by wanting to remove trade agreements from foreign countries who did not want to be spied on, were outlier forms of denial.
A Summary of the Forms of Denial in their order of frequency:
#10 items: Mass surveillance justified as necessary to prevent terrorism.
#10 items: Partial admission-partial denial of programs reported by E. Snowden.
#8 items: Blanket denials ranging from ‘no spying is happening’ to denial of specifics.
#7 items: Normalizing mass spying, ranging from everybody does it to it is approved!
#6 items: Killing the messenger. Focusing on the whistleblower to destroy his message.
#6 Items: Victimhood by the Aggressors: the truth has so “damaged us”.
#5 Items: Minimization. Of the extent or impact and error of the spying.
#4 Items: Shifting Responsibility to others. It is the other guy’s fault.
#4 Items: Disqualifying Proposed Reforms: It is not practical and so on.