The Hill is awash this week in testimony regarding the actions of the National Security Agency (NSA) in monitoring telephone, Internet, and other transactions of the American people. When this story broke, the indication was that the vast majority of Americans are being monitored in various communications forms by this agency. Then we see former vice president, Dick Cheney come forward and defend the program along with the Obama Administration. As you might know, there was discussion of this program or one like it during Bush’s term of office but it was focused on non-citizens and foreign nationals and their transactions in the communications and financial media and that seemed to be what Cheney was defending in his position.
Much of what has surfaced regarding the secretive “PRISM” program of the NSA indicates that the monitoring extends far deeper and broader than initial indications would suggest. Of course, the president, administration officials, and high level military managers of the NSA program have quickly come to the forefront to defend the program on the basis of its value in fighting terrorism both domestically and international while claiming success in that arena. At the same time, they claim success but provide little or no indication how the data mined from the communications and financial centers played into either capturing the criminals or disrupting the plots…we just have to take their word for it.
First it was two incidents which had been foiled. That’s right, two incidents in return for massive monitoring and data-mining on otherwise honest, hard-working, American people. That hardly seems like a fair value in terms of both the effort and the cost of gathering the information. At the same time, there was no connective evidence provided to support the conclusion in these two instances either. Top NSA officials testifying before Congressional committee, now claim more than 50 instances have been uncovered by these methods yet no real connective evidence is provided to support the claim.
“So what is the problem? You ask.” “What is wrong with the NSA monitoring things? I have nothing to hide.” Beauty contest participant Miss Alabama thinks in the same fashion. She says that she feels safe going to theaters, malls, and public places in knowing that the NSA is monitoring for people who would do us harm. Well…there is your problem and it points to the one thing that I have cried out about now for years--Big Government--Big Brother, and he’s watching you. One of the first indications that tyranny is beginning to creep into a system is when we find the citizens of that otherwise “free system” willing to knowingly trade their liberties and freedoms for a perceived security. I wonder if Miss Alabama ever gave any thought to the effectiveness of this program when it came to locating the Boston Bombers prior to their recent acts of terrorism.
“Oh,” You say, “Cool down, no one has lost any liberties or freedoms.” Well, let me suggest that the statement be more accurately made. No one has lost any liberties or freedoms--YET. You see, much like the dentist gives you Novocain to deaden or numb the area for dental work, tyranny must create the same “softening” of the will and that takes time. First, it must violate your space in terms of the Constitution. Then it waits for the reaction, adjusts, and violates your space again in the same way or perhaps in a new way. Each time the sequence takes place, the invasion is a little deeper, a bit more probing, and at the same time still stopping short of depriving you of anything except perhaps your own privacy. Eventually, feeling unthreatened in any way, you tire of the dance, quit paying attention, and go on your merry way. Just like Miss Alabama.
Gathering information randomly and indiscriminately on otherwise innocent citizens of this country is an act of tyranny if you put any faith into the Constitution. It has no basis of justification, terrorism or not. Such a broad swath of information gathering into silos which eventually become government databases is a violation of your privacy. You have no idea how that information is used; how it is guarded; where it is kept; or whose hands it will eventually fall into by accident.
So ask yourself--if I am willing to tolerate such violations of my rights under the Constitution, where am I going to draw the line and how much am I willing to put up with from a government which swears it means me no harm yet ignores constitutional safeguards in its actions?
The conclusions drawn from these actions on the part of the government builds a yellow-brick road on which the dismantling of our founding infrastructure will take place. Tolerance and apathy pave that road while also sustaining it as it weaves its way further and further into our lives. The point at which you notice and cry out “Enough” may be a mile or two too far down that road and tyranny may have all the momentum it needs to roll right over you and anyone who thinks like you. Our liberties and freedoms provided for by the Constitution are only of value when we, the American citizens, value them and are willing to stand up and defend them. The current pattern of violations from so many different fronts has the look and smell of tyranny all over it and it must be stopped. ~WB
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