October 30, 2013
Since 9/11 the NSA in the US has been spying on allies (Brazil, Spain, Mexico, France and Germany), the citizens of those nation states as well as its own citizens in the name of fighting the war on terror. The NSA is resisting any limitations on its powers of surveillance as a result of the diplomatic fallout, and it misleading the Senate on its industrial style domestic surveillance. "Everyone spies! " is their defense.
This is a ubiquitous, suspicionless spying that is the sole province of the US and its four English-speaking surveillance allies (the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). This massive bulk-spying system that operates in the dark is no longer about terrorism.
For the Five Eyes' spooks --- NSA and it spook Anglo allies (eg.,GCHQ in the UK and the signals intelligence agencies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand) ---the problem is the media's publication of information from Edward Snowden (it could damage national security is their reason) not the lack of public oversight and scrutiny of their mass surveillance. They, and their conservative allies reckon the newspapers who published the leaked information should be prosecuted, even though much of what the NSA and GCHQ (virtually one organisation) are up to with their electronic harvest treatment has nothing to do with terrorism or security at all.
We are moving towards a democratic society where the mass digital surveillance of citizens is normal---in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. That covers a lot of ground. The people with access to our secrets can see, hear, intercept and monitor everything.