Suddenly embroiled in too many scandals to even list, and humiliated by a publicly-exposed (because everyone knew about the NSA superspy ambitions before, but with one major difference: it was a conspiracy theory.... now it is a conspiracy fact) surveillance scandal that makes Tricky Dick look like an amateur, earlier today, as expected, Obama came out and publicly declared "I am not a hacker" and mumbled something about "security", "privacy" and "inconvenience." He went on to explain how the government "welcomes the debate" of all three in the aftermath of the public disclosure that every form of electronic communication is intercepted and stored by the US government (now that said interception is no longer secret, of course) but more importantly how it is only the government, which is naturally here to help, that should be the ultimate arbiter in deciding what is best for all.
Yet the PRISM-gate scandal which is sure to only get worse with time as Americans slowly realize they are living in a Orwellian police state, meant Obama would have to do more to appease a public so furious even the NYT issued a scathing editorial lamenting the obliteration of Obama's credibility. Sure enough, the president did. Reuters reports that the first course of action by the US government will be to... shoot the messenger.
Reuters reports that "President Barack Obama's administration is likely to open a criminal investigation into the leaking of highly classified documents that revealed the secret surveillance of Americans' telephone and email traffic, U.S. officials said on Friday."
And how did Reuters learn this: from "law enforcement and security officials who were not authorized to speak publicly."
The mimetic absurdity of the narrative is just too surreal to even contemplate for more than a minute before bursting out in laughter: the administration's plans to launch criminal charges against those who "leaked" its Nixonian espionage masterplan involving every US (and world) citizen using the Internet, revealed by another group of sources leaking in secret. Pure poetry.
Of course, this was inevitable - once you start down the path of a totalitarian surveillance superstate, you don't stop until all dissent is crushed: either peacefully through submission to debt serfdom, or, well, not so peacefully.
It was unclear on Friday whether a complaint had been submitted by the publicity-shy National Security Agency, which was most directly involved in the collection of trillions of telephone and email communications.
However, one U.S. official with knowledge of the situation said that given the extent and sensitivity of the recent leaks, federal law may compel officials to open an investigation.
A criminal probe would represent another turn in the Obama administration's battle against national security leaks. This effort has been under scrutiny lately because of a Justice Department investigation that has involved searches of the phone records of Associated Press journalists and a Fox News reporter.
But what's worst, is that it may all turn very personal against the same journalists who dared to divulge the NSA's spy-op:
Journalists involved in The Guardian and Washington Post articles have reported in depth on WikiLeaks, the website known for publishing secret U.S. government documents.
The Post report on the PRISM program was co-written by Laura Poitras, a filmmaker who has been working on a documentary on WikiLeaks, with the cooperation of its founder Julian Assange, and who last year made a short film about Bill Binney, a former NSA employee who became a whistleblowing critic of the agency.
Last year, the web magazine Salon published a lengthy article by the author of the Guardian report, Glenn Greenwald, accusing U.S. authorities of harassing Poitras when she left and re-entered the United States. Greenwald also has written frequently about Assange.
The Guardian and Post stories appeared in the same week that U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning went on trial in Maryland accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
In an email to Reuters on Friday, Poitras rejected the notion that the trial had any impact on the timing of her story.
"I am fully aware we are living in a political climate where national security reporting is being targeted by the government, however, I don't think fear should stop us from reporting these stories," Poitras wrote.
"To suggest that the timing of the NSA PRISM story is linked in any way to other events or stories I'm following is simply wrong. Like any journalist, I have many contacts and follow multiple stories."
Kris Coratti, a Washington Post spokeswoman, said the timing of the paper's publication of Poitras' story had nothing to do with Manning's trial and that Assange had played no role in arranging or encouraging the story.
Greenwald did not respond to emailed requests for comment. The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, declined to comment.
Needless to say, once political retribution for publicizing the nuances of the police state becomes a personal affair targeting the very journalists whose task is to provide much needed information, the first amendment is basically finished.
Alas, on the path to tyranny the loss of rights and privileges, let alone the occasional amendment written on a very old parchment and which nobody follows or cares about, is inevitable.
And it is up to the citizens of such a tyrannical government to reclaim their nation. Which they will... Just as soon as The Bachelorette/Big Brother (no pun intended)/X Factor is over and the next disability check clears.