On the PRISM Generational Divide: Too Wide To Cross

On PRISM and reactions to it, there’s an enormous generational divide. Here’s why it matters.

aNewDomain.net — As commercial and government agencies continue to cross-check our metadata and peer over our shoulders into our private lives, American citizens need to do some cross-checking for themselves. Transparency is needed — real transparency. Not just the appearance of it.

As U.S. President Obama is an admirer of President Lincoln it would be good to remind him that President Abraham Lincoln said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Whether six years in office caused some changes in his commitment to transparency and accountability is a matter of debate.

I agree with The New York Times commentator, who wrote: ““The President has said — correctly, in my view — that strong Congressional oversight is absolutely essential in this area … It’s not possible for the Congress to do the kind of vigorous oversight that the President spoke about if you can’t get straight answers.”

The article continues with this information and exchange below:

At a March Senate hearing, Mr. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

“No, sir,” Mr. Clapper replied. “Not wittingly.”

It is not clear what Obama is thinking anymore. Today’s tech infrastructure is run by the under-30 generation, a generation that does not generally believe in such absolute statements and value systems as the statement “my country is right or wrong” suggests.

Managers like Clapper, who grew up on black and white TV, probably, think in monopolistic terms of reference.

I know them well, being part of the monopoly myself.

Clapper and cronies have a hard time understanding the nuts and bolts of a bottom-up information society.

Now, Manning and Snowden are the Snapchat  generation, which believes that real-time sharing of information is a way of life. These digital natives watch their government’s secret manipulations as contrary to all the open and innovative ways of disruption they grew up with. The values of open society and the Google-esque “do no evil” are part of their generational DNA.

Among the 500,000 people holding the  “top secret ” pass are contractors with security clearance to PRISM.

My estimate is  that 98 percent of these people probably identify with the mission of the NSA. But there are two percent who doubt it and are tired of watching and following all the different profiles.

These two percent of doubters are the hope for Americans because they are the ones most likely to prevent the United States from becoming a high-tech surveillance outfit.

They have a cognitive dissonance between their professional code of conduct and their conscience. The breaking point is hard to predict but it will happen.

That same two percent realizes that this is as much about power as it is about privacy, as the UK Guardian so correctly noted.

So, as to create a two-way street of information and accountability, every tech guy who is part of the system needs to know that he is being watched, too.

World War II marked the end of the time when an official could use the defense of “just following orders” in any kind of justifiable, legal or ethical way.

Clapper and his co-commanders need to know that the new tools Silicon Valley provided them with comprise a two-way street.

A fast fiber optic line between citizens and government is, at end, a two-way highway of information. This highway does not operate according to the old rules of “my way or the highway.”

In 30 years you can look up in the National Archive what we really did.

The new rule says every electronic highway will become a two-way road eventually. That means you keep a secret but just for a limited time.

Look up Snapshop if you want to understand the new concept of time and memory. See how quickly the Chinese government transferred billions of dollars worth of military secrets of hardware getting into the Pentagon system. Yes, the USA has the best satellite listening capability up in the sky, but on Earth there are ways to listen to you, too. I have been brought up to learn that, as the saying goes, every fence has a hole.

For aNewDomain.net commentary, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.