Big Brother 30 Years Beyond 1984
By Paul Gable
George Orwell’s “Big Brother” is alive and well in the U.S. government 30 years beyond 1984, but I’m not sure even Orwell ever anticipated the level of the current actions.
Another attack, by “Big Brother”, on U.S. citizens’ right to privacy and guarantees of freedom from illegal search and seizure was reported by the “Guardian” and “Washington Times” newspapers recently regarding requests for cell phone records from Verizon.
Those revelations were bad enough, but we later learned, from “The Hill”, that senators knew about these vast phone sweeping operations by the National Security Agency, which have been going on since 2007.
Then, the Washington Post reported that NSA and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
And these spying activities are all being conducted against U.S. citizens, not some foreign terrorist group.
Why does the U.S. government feel such a desperate need to spy on its own citizens so comprehensively? Frankly, I’m not buying the excuse that this is a necessary operation in the pursuit of the war on terrorism.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) made a big deal of announcing that NSA, in its warrant for Verizon, hadn’t asked to listen in on actual conversations. That explanation apparently satisfies Feinstein. I guess she never read the Constitution.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) said this program has been going on for seven years, under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and that he was not aware of a single citizen filing a complaint about it.
Hell no, Saxby! It’s tough to file a complaint about something being conducted by the most secret agency in the U.S. government that no one knows anything about. What an idiot!
I guess we found one area of government operations where bi-partisan support exists. Unfortunately, that area is spying on U.S. citizens.
Having held a Top Secret Special Intelligence security clearance for the 10 years I served in the Navy, I have knowledge, albeit dated, about the capabilities of NSA.
During my time working in Naval Intelligence, 1970-80, one thing was pounded into our heads over and over and reiterated during visits to the ‘Crystal Palace’ – “During the course of intercepts, if you ever get into a conversation involving a U.S. citizen, get out immediately or you will be committing a crime, prosecution of which will subject you to a fine of $10,000, 10 years in jail or both.” What the hell happened?
NSA has the computing power and ability to record every cell phone conversation everywhere in the world. How many times have we already heard of NSA committing an “apparently accidental glitch” that resulted in the collection of purely domestic conversations?
How do we know another of these “apparently accidental glitches” hasn’t resulted in the conversations already being recorded? Comparing the records requested against conversations intercepted would allow NSA the ability to determine who was talking to whom and what they were talking about.
Further, the NSA wraps all of its activities up in a big “Top Secret” package so nobody, either in government or out, knows exactly what it does.
Unfortunately this is not new, even though it is a lot more comprehensive and secret than former times. J. Edgar Hoover, back in those primitive days between 1919 and 1972, conducted illegal surveillance and wiretaps of government officials, reporters and other U.S. citizens all in the name of fighting the ‘Red Menace.”
For the past 100 years, we have continually moved closer and closer to a secret police state. In the best tradition of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, we are allowing the government to spy on all of us and asking citizens to spy and inform on each other.
And Senator Lindsey Graham, from the great state of South Carolina, supports these actions, saying ‘If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’
Sorry Lindsey, it’s time for you to go away. While the Patriot Act, which you voted for Lindsey, has done much to minimize the provisions of the Bill of Rights, we have yet to officially rescind the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment still guarantees due process and the fifth still guarantees citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. It’s time we got back to honoring those guarantees.
Reading the e-mails of all U.S. citizens and listening in on their cell phone conversations, on the off chance that NSA will pick up some information on potential terrorist activities, is still illegal, regardless of what some FISA established kangaroo style court says. FISA still stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, doesn’t it?
When I joined the Navy, I took an oath swearing to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Why does it seem today that the majority of enemies are not only domestic, but also officials of the federal government, both elected and appointed?
What’s next? Might the Drug Enforcement Agency search every home in the U.S. on the off chance that it might pick up some information on drug cartels to help fight the ever continuing war on drugs?
That’s the same type of excuse the NSA is using to intercept the cell phone and other electronic conversations of U.S. citizens on a blanket basis. Both are just as illegal and, worse, contrary to the principles on which this country was founded, regardless of the mindless mumblings of senators Lindsey Graham, Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss.