[A]mong the Washington press corps, though, there is mostly silence about the connection between the private industry and the public policy. Indeed, few in D.C. are willing to say that the policy debate may be, in part, driven by the private industry and almost nobody dares mention that politicians’ attacks on surveillance critics may actually have nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with going to bat for their campaign donors...
Simply put, there are huge corporate forces with a vested financial interest in making sure the debate over security is tilted toward the surveillance state and against critics of that surveillance state. In practice, that means when those corporations spend big money on campaign contributions, they aren’t just buying votes for specific private contracts. They are also implicitly pressuring politicians to rhetorically push the discourse in a pro-surveillance, anti-civil liberties direction — that is, in a direction that preserves the larger political assumptions on which the profits of the entire surveillance-industrial complex are based.
The success of that pressure is exemplified by the title of today’s congressional hearing with the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander. The hearing doesn’t ask why Alexander lied to Congress or whether the NSA has engaged in illegal acts. No, a Congress bankrolled by firms like Booz Allen predictably calls the hearing “How Disclosed NSA Programs Protect Americans and Why Disclosure Aids Our Adversaries,” the two preconceived assumptions being that 1) the NSA’s surveillance programs, which generate huge profits for companies like Booz, are beneficial to Americans’ security and 2) critics of those programs hurt the country.
19 June 2013
The best politicians money can buy
Excerpts from a Salon article about the influence of Big Money on national policies: