A state within a state at an alarming rate: Assange says NSA just keeps on growing
For Assange, it was an interesting occasion, being given the opportunity to meet with Google. The company’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, was present, as well as three other executives who the Australian thought were of little importance at the time. However, Assange remembers that he could not resist asking Schmidt if he would like to reveal anything to WikiLeaks, the site which he founded.
“We asked Eric Schmidt to provide us with the Secret Patriot Act requests that had been served on Google to coerce them to give information to the US intelligence,” Assange stated.
He told RT that Google had been complicit with the NSA, even if it was unwilling at times, adding that he knew about the existence of the Secret Patriot Act even before Edward Snowden’s revelations.
But Schmidt was not willing to play ball with the WikiLeaks founder.
“I have been studying the National Security Agency for about 20 years, so we knew that these sort of things were going on even before the Snowden revelations. It is not that the revelations were not important, because they gave more detail,” the Australian stated. “He became very nervous and said he couldn’t do that because that would be illegal. He didn’t realize at the time that I thought that Google would be acting because it has been coerced rather than there being an element of voluntarism in the association with the US military.”
In his book 'Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet,' Assange says that opponents of WikiLeaks aim to try to distract attention from actual revelations, rather than trying to provide answers to the questions posed.
“If we go back and look at what the US military is: Robert Gates and General McMullan said our publications were hypothetical and maybe they would cause harm. Our publications documented their involvement at a case-by-case level in the deaths of more than 20,000 people in Afghanistan and more than 108,000 people in Iraq. Those are the mistakes that we are talking about. Not only is this the dissolution of two societies, but also the deaths of over 100,000 people. So when you want to distract from this, you just make the same accusation to the person that is making the accusation against you. In 2013, in the trial of Chelsea Manning – who was subsequently sentenced to 35 years for giving information to the media and only for giving information to the media – the US government said that under the oath they could not find a single person who had been harmed, not a single person.”
Despite Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s widespread spying, both domestically and abroad, the Australian does not think things will get better in the near future. Instead, he says things are getting worse – with the creation of a state within a state.
“There now six million people in the United States with security clearances. That is more than the population of Norway, New Zealand, or Scotland. That is in effect a state within a state. Why is it a state within a state? Because people that have security clearances have extra laws that they are meant to obey. That is extremely alarming [at the] moment, if we go back to 2010, just back to when it was 2.5 million. So there has been more than a doubling in the size of the National Security State within the US in just 4-5 years.”