NSA has become a four-letter word in US
Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He served as foreign affairs advisor to US Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, including as editorial page editor of the Budapest Sun. He also served as special rapporteur for the British Helsinki Human Rights Group while based in Europe, monitoring human rights and elections on the ground in various contentious states, including Albania during the 1996-1998 civil unrest, Montenegro, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, and Slovakia. He was a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow (1998-2000) and an American Swiss Foundation “Young Leader” (2006). He can be reached on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org
RT:The hackers' congress which is underway in Hamburg is seeking to raise awareness of encryption and privacy. We're used to thinking about hacking as something illegal. Are hackers becoming the new heroes of our time?
Daniel McAdams: When the government is doing things that are illegal, it takes formerly illegal things like hackers to try to protect us. The only worry is [whether these are] all legitimate hackers or some [are] infiltrated. The whole world of encryption is also somewhat concerning as well.
RT:Assange called on hackers to fight back against the spy agencies. Is the job any easier these days, after all these revelations?
DM: I think there has been an enormous increase in awareness of what the government is doing. What is interesting is that this ruling by Judge Pauley on Friday said the ACLU does not have the right to challenge this collection of metadata because it was gotten illegally because of revelations by Snowden.
RT:Are you surprised by that ruling?
DM: The Washington Post called it ‘Kafkaesque,’ and I think that is right. One of their journalists pointed out that because Congress meant for orders under Section 2.15 of the Patriot Act to be secret, the ACLU has no right to challenge that. The implications are incredible. It means that if the government was illegally using 2.15 - something that we would objectively say was illegal use of 2.15 - we could never challenge that because we were not supposed to have known that they were doing it. And it really is like Kafka, it is absolutely chilling.
RT:How is the public mood in the US?
DM: Americans are very irritated. The NSA has become a four-letter word in the US. People never thought about it before. Someone like Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said yesterday that he is glad of this ruling because maybe Americans will now stop being so mean and angry with NSA. I think that is wrong.
RT:How much damage have Snowden's leaks done to America's foreign relations and its image?
DM: I don’t think a lot of the revelations about the foreign spying should have been a surprise to anyone. Americans are more concerned with the NSA getting out of control in its monitoring of American citizens. That is where the outrage is here in the US, and you find out that this bulk collection of everything is fine and dandy. As Judge Pauley pointed out, this was the government’s counter-punch against Al-Qaeda. Although they can’t tell us of one single success that they had with this monitoring of our communications.
RT:Do you think the governments that are most affected by NSA surveillance will be able to stand up to the US and put an end to the snooping?
DM: It is a subtle process that takes place over time. The image of America has decreased in the eyes of the world, if you look at polling data over the last decade. I think things like the attack on Iraq that was obviously based on lies, the disastrous invasion of Afghanistan, the US manipulating elections, manipulating governments throughout the world - most recently we see that in Africa and South Sudan - I think this is a process and it is showing the rest of the world more and more that US interventionism is certainly not a force for good. At least not this day and age.