by Csilla Sándor
A world government is spying on 99.9 per cent of mankind. This is suggested by the leaked documents and the hearings conducted so far by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament. The committee also found out that the surveillance and tapping activities were not prompted by the events on September 11, 2001. They started much earlier. Back in 2000, The European Parliament already issued the Echelon report which revealed the illegal mass surveillance, even though there were no signs of the attacks on the twin towers or anti-terrorism war yet - says Krisztina Morvai, Jobbik's representative in the European Parliament about the conclusions of the EU investigation into the worldwide surveillance scandal.
- The American National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been intercepting and tapping people's mobile phone calls and online data traffic worldwide via satellites, spyware and other devices - as was leaked by Edward Snowden, a former employee of the service. Can James Bond retire at last?
- In James Bond's heyday, the cold war period, the states that were each other's enemies were spying on each other for their own benefit. After 1990, the situation changed fundamentally, and secret services started cooperating with each other to spy on us. The NSA is not simply an organization of a national state that collects data about people to protect its own and its citizens' security. The image of a violence-prone, totalitarian state, a world government is emerging right before our eyes, and it is the customer of these services, as a matter of fact. A world government is spying on 99.9 per cent of mankind. This is shown by the leaked documents and the hearings conducted so far by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament.
- As a member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, you participated in exploring the background of a worldwide surveillance system.
Can you model the operation of the network?
- This system was born as an alloy of human malevolence, the totalitarian ambitions of the world government and technology. They terrorize online and phone service providers who give in sooner or later and agree to cooperate in data collection. They classified how they could get Facebook and Google to provide access to their users' data. There was a small service provider, the manager of which wrote an open letter and refused to illegally provide information about his partners and decided to cease the operation of his business instead. This businessman cannot tell what methods they were trying to intimidate him with, because it is classified, but he asks all of us not to contact US-affiliated Internet service providers, because our data would not be secure. When the experts of the secret services realized that they could not achieve a 100 per cent efficiency by this method, they created the so-called back-door systems installed on hardware thus making computers and smart phones accessible for spyware.
The king is naked
–Le Monde journalist Jacques Follorou told in a committee hearing that when they published a fact-finding article about the tapping, it did not prompt an elemental public outrage. Nearly everybody acknowledged that strangers can pry into their most intimate secrets in the name of their security and the global fight against terrorism. The committee hearings revealed that several countries operate surveillance systems similar to the American one, and they also found out that secret services exchange data with each other.
- Many people say they were aware of being tapped, I always hoped that it was an exaggeration, and most of these allegations were just part of a conspiracy theory. Sitting in the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament, I am astounded to hear the data and conclusions of the investigation into the tapping activities. Investigating the Echelon case in 2000, European MPs have already been looking into illegal mass surveillance. Back then it was revealed that tapping stations had been set up on Earth and in space, and they could collect all data from satellite, microwave, mobile and fiber-optic communication systems and forward them to Echelon's computers. Echelon was the "little brother" of the network just unveiled by Edward Snowden. The findings of the Echelon investigation were supposed to be published in early September, 2001, but they did not do it out of sympathy after the events taking place in New York, and this report has not been aired ever since. It is a commonplace now that people are constantly manipulated and brainwashed with the imbecilic TV shows, consumerism and the mind-numbing effects of consumer society. They make people give up individual thinking and the fundamental values that European civilisation is built upon: democracy, the separation and accountability of powers. Theoretically speaking, citizens are supposed to control their government and its management of power. However, the reality is that people don't even challenge the concept that they are subordinated to the government which controls and moves them. By revealing that the US was tapping its own allies and citizens, and the system is connected to the secret services of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Snowden unveiled the entire chicanery. We found out that the king was naked and Western civilisation, which had felt superior to the rest of the world, is designed and operated the same way as the often-condemned totalitarian systems. The committee hearing also found out that the surveillance and tapping activities were not prompted by the events on September 11, 2001. They started much earlier. Back in 2000, The European Parliament already issued the Echelon report which revealed the illegal mass surveillance, even though there were no signs of an attack on the twin towers or the anti-terrorism war yet.
September 11, 2001: Eyes wide shut?
- The US seems to have retrospectively proven the existence of surveillance by the anti-terrorism war declared after 9/11. The comparison of the war planned against Syria and the events in New York in 2001 raises another question: if the US was already able to collect nearly all kinds of data by the late 1990s, why couldn't they prevent the destruction of the World Trade Center? Why couldn't they present irrefutable evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found until today? Why did they fail to capture Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for years? Can the contradiction between the surveillance capabilities and these events prompt a public awakening process?
- I hope that this awakening will take place without the shock of revelation driving many people insane. So far we have always treated most allegations with reservation, we thought that some of the news about tapping were just a conspiracy theory. We believed, we wanted to believe in human good will, in fact, by doubting the allegations we were trying to prove to ourselves that such malevolence was impossible. Many were shocked by the realization that some people would not refrain from even the greatest lies and meanest acts in order to achieve centralized power. Those who try to unveil these efforts are threatened, blocked from doing their job, harassed, even labelled as an idiot. There was a 15-minute interview with Edward Snowden. When he was asked what he was afraid the most, he did not mention the death penalty or other severe punishment, but he said he was afraid that his actions would have no consequence whatsoever and the world would go on just like before.
- In an EP committee hearing, the editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which cooperated with Snowden, talked about the threats and unlawful actions against him and his colleague. He said that British secret service officers destroyed data carriers in the editorial office. A La Monde employee was also talking about the dangers lurking on investigative journalists. Can the depth of tapping ever be revealed? Is it in the interest of the European Union, which has imperial dreams, and the governments of the member states that support centralization?
- There is a certain progress compared to 2000, when the EU unveiled the operation of the Echelon system. Internet is a curse and a blessing at the same time: its increasing penetration and mass usage allowed for building surveillance networks, but the worldwide web enables us to contact as many people as possible and to warn them about the dangers threatening their liberty. This can make us realize how important is the European Parliamentary presence of EU-realist powers fighting for national sovereignty and liberty. These MPs press for conducting an investigation and try to prevent a similar centralization of powers from ever taking place. We must understand that the background of the entire surveillance affair shows the underlying efforts to centralize power. Their goal is to allow as little power for the people as possible. Political power is intertwined with economic and technological power. In addition to the faith in the Europe of nations and liberty, we also need common sense and realize that we must not be misled by allegations that terrorism can only be contained if everybody is tapped. If we follow this concept through, eventually they will say that each person must be equipped with a camera, a tapping device at birth, because this could ultimately prevent crimes and acts against national security. The question is: do we want to live in a world like that? Claiming the need to fight against terrorism, they tap everybody. We know what anti-terrorist forces are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan: Bradley Manning has just been sentenced to 35 years in prison for revealing how soldiers are hunting for people in Iraq. Stopping wars would be a more efficient step in the anti-terrorist campaign than tapping.
- Is there a healthy borderline between ensuring the security of a nation and the sanctity of private life?
- The basic question is whether we control the government or the government controls us. The system should be built in such a way that it is not a handful of people arbitrarily getting in power and/or their servants choose in an uncontrolled manner who they tap, what kind of tools they use and how they handle the collected data; these decisions must be made by people getting into such positions in a transparent, easy-to-follow and democratic manner. It was revealed that in the US, these surveillance activities are mostly performed by external service providers on a business basis. It has several consequences: confidential data can be accessed by hundreds of thousands of people with no loyalty whatsoever. After the surveillance scandal had broken out, the US Congress was about to pass a legislation to suspend mass surveillance activities. However, the opposition of the bill achieved a slight majority in the vote. Analysts examined the congress members opposing the bill and it turned out that bipartisan division was not a decisive factor. The decision of the particular representative depended on how much campaign money he/she received from private companies financially interested in surveillance. Intertwining economic and political powers and corruption are all detectable in this matter.
György Konrád's liberalism
- Can Hungary operate a system similar to that of the US?
- I can imagine so. In Hungary, there is a legislation in force, which I had objected to before it was passed. It says that if a terrorist threat is suspected, people can be tapped and subjected to surveillance. Apart from Jobbik and LMP, there was nobody else to object to the bill. The legislation does not define what kind of people can be subjected to such surveillance for security reasons. The Hungarian legislation says that these methods can be applied against "persons suspected to be related to terrorism" by a simple ministerial licence, without the relevant resolution of an independent body, i.e. a court. This means that I myself could be a person suspected to be related to terrorism, since I follow György Budaházy's case and I have contact with him, and his attorney, Tamás Gaudi-Nagy could also fall into this category, as a matter of fact. Free people in a free, democratic country should not be subjected to national security surveillance if, for instance, they are interested in the Uyghur issue. There are other examples when people are declared dangerous and the authorities try to justify the announcement of a terrorist threat. As far as Hungary is concerned, all we need to do is to recall the events in 2006. The authorities announced that there had been people with knives on them staying in Kossuth Square for days and weeks, and these tools had been confiscated before the events of October 23, thus the threat was eliminated. However, lots of people were declared a "threat" to the foreign diplomats paying tribute at the Parliament, thus their fundamental rights were restricted, and public areas were blocked from 15 millions of Hungarians commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 revolution. This is an element of a totalitarian practice which can be found in Gyurcsány's administration as well as in Obama's.
–Let's go back a little to the question of how dedicated the EU is to investigate and reveal surveillance activities. It was you who pointed out in your speech in the European Parliament that György Konrád, an advisor to Juan Manuel Barroso, said in an interview in Magyar Narancs ("Hungarian Orange", a weekly magazine) that it was right subject people to surveillance.
- I was trying to expose György Konrád, since what he admitted by this statement was that dictatorship has just as much influence now on our everyday lives as before 1990. These are the words of a man who considers himself a liberal. As long as Barroso, who shapes Europe's future, has such an advisor, we can never be sure that he is genuinely dedicated to unveiling the entire surveillance matter. We must remember that the entire European Commission is controlled by the banks, the financial powers and large multinational companies, so intertwining politics and money can be detected here as well. Barroso's latest speech showed that the struggle is not between European left and right, but between EU realists and the promoters of EU integration.
- What tasks do we, Hungarians have in this struggle?
- In this situation, cooperation is of utmost importance, just as it was a key factor in the investigation of human rights violations committed in the autumn of 2006. Human rights activists and lawyers were working together on those cases, they did not fight on their own. We Hungarians are a freedom-loving nation and the successors of the legacy of 1956, so we could have a special role in pointing out that the king is naked and in fighting to get rid of the yoke of oppression. The world has reached a turning point which can decide whether we would live in slavery or freedom.