Were I of a more conspiratorial mindset – which I am not – I would almost swear that the Edward Snowden/NSA surveillance revelations were intentional on the part of the powers that be. Allow me to explain.
One of the cardinal political sins in this era of Jon Stewart-style, soundbite-based “gotcha” politics and political reporting is that of hypocrisy; especially of the “Well, you supported it when it was your guy doing it” sort. This is instantly, fatally discrediting to any person or group who gets “nailed” with it, and irrevocably taints not just them, but their arguments as well.
Now consider the relentless forward march of the surveillance/police state over the years since 2001. Under the Republican President Bush the Lesser, Democrats and other leftist types relentlessly denounced and opposed it, while Republicans and conservatives (with the limited exceptions of the small nascent Ron Paul movement and a few Old Right Pat Buchanan types) supported and defended it. What the NSA revelations have done is to reverse this – now it is those same Democrats and leftists (with a few limited exceptions of the Glenn Greenwald and Ted Rall variety) who support and defend the surveillance/police state; usually in language virtually identical to that with which the Bush-era Republicans defended it (or the Nixon-era Republicans defended what he did, as well).
The point here is not to illustrate that leftists are liars and hypocrites who are given to highly tribal “team” politics and weird personality cults – that much is obvious. It is to point out that, with the limited exceptions given above (which are small enough to be safely ignored by both the left-establishment and the right-establishment), now going forward, nobody will have the credibility or moral authority to vocally oppose the surveillance/police state. And what’s more, the sophisticated among the establishment political/media class know it, so in order to avoid embarrassment they won’t even try. Thus, virtually all opposition (and certainly all of it that cannot be easily labeled as “fringe” and ignored) to what is happening has now been effectively neutralized.
This may not be a conspiracy to “triangulate” opposition to the police/surveillance state into silence – and I am loath to ascribe to shadowy gatherings of men in weird robes what can be more simply explained by ordinary malfeasance, corruption, power-lust, greed, and incompetence – but once again we have a situation in which it couldn’t have worked out any better for the establishment if they actually had planned it.