People have called Edward Snowden many things, but it is undeniable that he has revealed the truth—that despite their rhetoric and public statements suggesting otherwise, the NSA and the rest of our government was and is searching for, collecting, and analyzing “metadata” on Americans. “NSA surveillance” is code for domestic spying on the overwhemmingly innocent.
Keep an eye on the doublespeak: when the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, was asked under oath if his spies lacked the authority to capture the content of the metadata they retrieved, he said yes; this does not, therefore, preclude that his underlings lack the ability to do so, because he knows exactly what the NSA is doing (PRISM). Gen. Alexander’s boss, James Clapper (director of national intelligence), said under oath that the feds were not gathering data about Americans. President Obama has stated that the government is not “reading your emails” or “listening to your phone conversations.”
Subsequently when Mr. Clapper was specifically asked if the NSA collects any type of data at all on Americans he replied by saying “No … not wittingly”, only later to retreat and state that his original answer was the “least untruthful” answer he could give. He elaborated by downplaying the NSA’s surveillance, assuaging all our fears since the government need not look at your data unless they have a reason to. That’s like putting a bottle of Vodka in front of an alcoholic and saying, “Don’t drink unless you’re about to die of thirst.”
The British have a saying that you shouldn’t believe anything unless it’s officially denied. The denials have only just begun.
The government has over-extended itself beyond its own authority, and despite what any secret FISA court says, these egregious acts are in direct violation of the fourth amendment.
The Catch-22 of this whole fiasco is that the NSA only answers to the FISA secret court, which is, of course, secret and we are not allowed to know the details of proceedings. In this court, only NSA agents and DOJ lawyers appear—so, the government justifies its own actions by creating a secret court whose only representatives are the people who are making their case. It’s like convicting someone for a crime in an underground, hidden courtroom where there is only one lawyer (yours), who also happens to be the judge. Go figure.
Despite all this, I wonder: If you are an honest citizen with nothing to hide, what is the real danger if the government is keeping an eye on you? After all, if you spend your days calling your mom to talk about baking cookies or use Yahoo to search for volunteering in a puppy orphanage, what is the big deal? Who would come after you?
Firstly, the government has already lied to us about how far and how deep it has gone to intrude into our lives. You cannot trust the same institution to follow the rules when they abandoned the rules long ago in the first place.
Secondly, this argument supposes you have done nothing wrong based on your assumption. The thing is, most people in this country do not even know how often they violate the law, since the federal restrictions on everyday life have grown exponentially in recent years. For instance, have you ever downloaded an illegal song? Have you ever photocopied a page from a book that perhaps was copyrighted? Taken a picture of someone or something without their consent and then shared it? Such seemingly innocuous crimes happen every day and the vast majority of people are not prosecuted. If there is a record somewhere of all our “illegal” exploits, there’s a veritable treasure trove of incriminating evidence ready to trap and destroy the lives of millions even though they have “nothing to hide.” And by the way, even if you are doing these things and don’t even know what you are doing is wrong, it does not matter—you are still guilty.
Thirdly, power invariably leads to abuse of power. Even if the “rules” say that information on Americans is collected “incidentally”, consider the integrity of the rule-maker. In their world, rules are fluid, malleable, and dynamic.
Fourthly, collecting data on innocent people assumes that they are guilty first and puts evidence on hold for later. The government knew what they were doing was wrong beforehand, since their deplorable rationalizations for their atrocities came after the fact, once the veil was lifted on the charade.
Fifth, the government has resorted to using the law to justify breaking the law. The FISA court is a stepping-stone toward totalitarianism, along with military prisons (Guantanamo), a presidential kill list (which includes American citizens), and drones soon-to-be-flying in American airspace (list not exhaustive).
Sixth, all those who support massive, unregulated surveillance proclaim the benefits of snooping. They say that the “needle-in-the-haystack” will be found easier, moving us one step closer to winning the war on terror. If finding a bad guy means sifting through mountains of data, more surveillance equates to more data; as a result, we’re just adding more hay to the haystack instead of encouraging and supporting more effective and efficient means to go after the needle.
The public is beginning to wake up and see the regime for what is really is, and for what it stands for. The more that is revealed, the more people will realize that they are not us, their interests are not aligned with ours, and they operate in a world of shadows governed by rules that we would find strange, foreign, and absurd. That world is not reality, but a fabricated web of mendacity. Once realization of this phenomenon sinks in, and people wake up to what has been going on, the regime’s grip on power and stronghold on persuasion will begin to erode and the self-destruct sequence can begin.
Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal