The winged snow-white horse Pegasus was the offshoot of a Gorgon, Medusa (the lady whose hair consisted of vipers). Since he now resides among the stars in the sky (the great square of Pegasus), we may have forgotten what his mother was. But we have recently been told that he now also resides in an unknown number of mobile phones.
Mainstream media have made a big fuss about the Pegasus spyware issue. Indeed, the issue merits a rumpus, but just what have the Guardian, the Washington Post, Le Monde and BBC been saying about it? If you open the links, you will see that the articles are near identical.
This is the take of all the articles linked above: Israel has been naughty because it has been selling cutting-edge spyware to countries that regard political opponents, journalists and human rights activists as terrorists.
The journalists have discovered that everywhere Netanyahu went, Pegasus went too, as in the nursery rhyme:
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And every where that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go
Put differently, Netanyahu was on an ingratiation spree, offering Pegasus to his hosts. Since time immemorial people have brought gifts when they went a-visiting. I am sure that offering a beautiful white horse was not uncommon in the Middle East.
Somebody joined the dots and found that Kashogi was killed shortly after Netanyahu’s visit to Saudi Arabia and that Pegasus had been lodged in the phones of several of his closest contacts. This effectively indicates that Israel might have been accessory to Kashogi’s death. But then again, Israel maintains that the country is perpetually at war, and that collateral damage is therefore unavoidable. For my part, I have never had the impression that loss of non-Jewish lives worries Israeli authorities, so this is not “news”.
Now you will not often catch me defending Israel, and strictly speaking I shall not do so now either, except by pointing out one small detail: selling weapons and drones (and other devices that disseminate death and despair) to any country that is willing to pay is not normally the stuff headlines are made of. It is what most countries do on a regular basis. I mean, honestly, our so-called democratic countries doing business with murderous dictators is what keeps those dictators afloat. Not that I defend such practices, but the press is distorting the Pegasus spyware issue. Israel is merely doing what most other countries do.
The problem about Pegasus is not that Israel has been naughty, but that Pegasus exists at all. When your mother is so hideous to behold that you are struck dead from just a glimpse of her, no wonder you turn into an instrument of evil. Pegasus is an example of scientific advances that are detrimental to the future of mankind. I quote Edward Snowden as quoted by the Guardian:
“for traditional police operations to plant bugs or wiretap a suspect’s phone, law enforcement would need to “break into somebody’s house, or go to their car, or go to their office, and we’d like to think they’ll probably get a warrant”. But commercial spyware made it cost-efficient for targeted surveillance against vastly more people. “If they can do the same thing from a distance, with little cost and no risk, they begin to do it all the time, against everyone who’s even marginally of interest,” he said. “If you don’t do anything to stop the sale of this technology, it’s not just going to be 50,000 targets. It’s going to be 50 million targets, and it’s going to happen much more quickly than any of us expect.”
These are, I repeat, Snowden’s words, not the Guardian’s. Snowden is, you will remember, already a fugitive because he spoke out about the massive unconstitutional surveillance being conducted by NSA against his country’s citizens. The Guardian’s reporters are perhaps not willing to risk everything, as did Snowden, by broadcasting what the existence of Pegasus actually means for the future of news reporting.
Nor do the above linked articles even hint at how so-called democratic countries to whom Israel has sold Pegasus – including the countries home to the Guardian, Washington Post, Le Monde and BBC – how those countries use the spyware. Do the said countries’ legislators even know it is being used? Are the courts duly informed each time a subject is subjected to the most invasive surveillance known to history?
I put to you that the journalists writing the near identical stories in the above linked articles will have been near paralysed. Petrified. I put to you that they are asking themselves whether Pegasus has already been stabled in their phones.