WHY OLIVER STONE’S SNOWDEN IS THE BEST FILM OF THE YEAR

September 18, 2016 – 5:14 am

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW
To reduce spamming, the BigO website is going through Cloudflare. What it does is scan your browser to ensure the visitor is not a spam. Do not be alarmed as this usually takes only a few seconds. Email us if you still have difficulty accessing the BigO site; or playing or downloading the tracks. If you know a better way of reducing spam, do let us know.

+ + + + +


The difference between eyes wide shut and a conscience is Oliver Stone’s Snowden and the late Tupac Shakur. By David Swanson.

Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.

It’s the true story of an awakening. It traces the path of Edward Snowden’s career in the US military, the CIA, the NSA, and at various contractors thereof. It also traces the path of Edward Snowden’s agonizingly slow awakening to the possibility that the US government might sometimes be wrong, corrupt, or criminal. And, of course, the film takes us through Snowden’s courageous and principled act of whistleblowing.

We see in the film countless colleagues of Snowden’s who knew much of what he knew and did not blow the whistle. We see a few help him and others appreciate him. But they themselves do nothing. Snowden is one of the exceptions. Other exceptions who preceded him and show up in the film include William Binney, Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, and Thomas Drake. Most people are not like these men. Most people obey illegal orders without ever making a peep.

And yet, what strikes me about Snowden and many other whistleblowers I’ve met or learned about, is how long it took them, and the fact that what brought them around was not an event they objected to but a change in their thinking. US officials who’ve been part of dozens of wars and coups and outrages for decades will decide that the latest war is too much, and they’ll bail out, resign publicly, and become an activist. Why now? Why not then, or then, or then, or that other time?

These whistleblowers - and Snowden is no exception - are not passive or submissive early in their careers. They’re enthusiastic true believers. They want to spy and bomb and kill for the good of the world. When they find out that’s not what’s happening, they go public for the good of the world. There is that consistency to their actions. The question, then, is how smart, dedicated young people come to believe that militarism and secrecy and abusive power are noble pursuits.

Most people are not like these men. Most people obey illegal orders without ever making a peep.

Oliver Stone’s Ed Snowden begins as a “smart conservative.” But the only smart thing we see about him is his computer skills. We never hear him articulate some smart political point of view that happens to be “conservative.” His taste in books includes Ayn Rand, hardly an indication of intelligence. But on the computers, Snowden is a genius. And on that basis his career advances.

Snowden has doubts about the legality of warrantless spying, but believes his CIA instructor’s ludicrous defense. Later, Snowden has such concerns about CIA cruelty he witnesses that he resigns. Yet, at the same time, he believes that presidential candidate Barack Obama will undo the damage and set things right.

How does one explain such obtuseness in a genius? Obama’s statements making perfectly clear that the wars and outrages would roll on were publicly available. I found them with ordinary search engines, needing no assistance from the NSA.

Snowden resigned, but he didn’t leave. He started working for contractors. He came to learn that a program he’d created was being used to assist in lawless and reckless, not to mention murderous, drone murders. That wasn’t enough.

He came to learn that the US government was lawlessly spying on the whole world and spying more on the United States than on Russia. (Why spying on Russia was OK we aren’t told.) But that, too, wasn’t enough.

Dull, cowardly, and servile people never blow whistles.

He came to learn that the US was spying on its allies and enemies alike, even inserting malware into allies¹ infrastructure in order to be able to destroy things and kill people should some country cease to be an ally someday. That, too, was not enough.
Snowden went on believing that the United States was the greatest country on earth. He went on calling his work “counter cyber” and “counter spying” as if only non-Americans can do spying or cyber-warfare, while the United States just tries to gently counter such acts.

In fact, Snowden risked his life, refraining from taking medication he needed, so that he could continue doing that work. He defended such recklessness as justified by the need to stop Chinese hackers from stealing billions of dollars from the US government. Apart from the question of which Chinese hackers did that, what did Snowden imagine it was costing US taxpayers to fund the military?

Snowden’s career rolled on. But Edward Snowden’s brilliant mind was catching up with reality and, at some point, overtook it. And then there was no question that he would do what needed to be done. Just as he designed computer programs nobody else could, and that nobody else even thought to try, now he designed a whistleblowing maneuver that would not be stopped as others had.

Consequently, we must be grateful that good and decent people sometimes start out believing Orwellian tales. Dull, cowardly, and servile people never blow whistles.

Note: David Swanson wants you to declare peace at WorldBeyondWar.org. His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. The above article was posted at CounterPunch.

+ + + + +

TUPAC THE FREEDOM FIGHTER: 20 YEARS LATER

By Lee Ballinger

Tupac Shakur died 20 years ago today (September 13), several days after he was shot in cold blood in Las Vegas. Tupac was the first prominent figure in America to defend women on welfare (”Keep Ya Head Up”). That was only one of the songs he wrote that defended women in the face of abandonment, beatings, rape, and government neglect (”Brenda’s Got a Baby,” “Part Time Mutha,” “Papa’z Song,” “Dear Mama”).

Tupac was always quick to give love to the growing number of people locked away in prison (”Much love to my brothers in the pen/See ya when I free ya/If not, when they shut me in”). Just a month before he was killed, Tupac appeared at an LA press conference where he denounced the Three Strikes bill and spoke of mobilizing his millions of fans of every color into a political force.

Tupac also knew that the people in the neighborhoods have enemies and he denounced both the police and the black bourgeoisie (”To the sellouts livin’ it up/One way or another you’ll be givin’ it up”).

He remains a vital source of inspiration to countless people around the world.

We can never get nowhere
Unless we share with each other
We got to start makin’ changes
See me as your brother instead of two distant strangers

- Tupac Shakur

Note: Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential and author of Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing. (Free pdf here).

+ + + + +

Post a Comment