Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Surveillance that's not so shocking

I'm shocked, shocked that there's snooping going on here
What is surprising about the latest leak of the government trolling for data from Americans is that anyone is surprised at all that it is going on.

I mean, hasn't this stuff been reported before?

Yes and no. We know the government is snooping on us. We really don't know the extent of it.

If you use a cell phone or the internet, you're fair game.

The latest "revelations" come from a disgruntled former NSA analyst, who only made $200,000 a year while living in Hawaii, may give us greater insight, but I'm sure the surveillance is far more extensive than what is reported.

Watch "Zero Dark Thirty" if you want to know. Actually, the security-industrial complex has satellites with cameras that can see through walls.

Am I fearful about this? Not really. We ceded away our privacy when the Patriot Act was passed in 2001 by our elected representatives after the 9/11 attacks.

Since then, some terrorist attacks have been thwarted, some have nearly succeeded and some have been  carried out, like at the Boston Marathon.

It's hard to tell if all the snooping has been worth it.

But, it's also hard to tell if the "data-mining" has had a negative effect on the average American.

I haven't read about a citizen, who's been critical of the government, being detained for criticizing the government. Sending ricin to the president doesn't count.

Yes, those men who have divulged government secrets have faced prosecution. But, hey, that comes with the territory. If you can't do the time, don't commit the crime.

That said, I'm not troubled by the illegal release of the data. This stuff happens all the time.

I'm also proud that Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is looking out for the average American in challenging the surveillance state.

The debate over privacy versus security is worth having all the time in this country.

That's what separates us from places like North Korea, Iran, China and Russia.

Actually, there's a whole lot more that distinguishes us from them. We can criticize our government without being thrown in jail. Plus, we have Mexican food and they don't.

But, we have a paranoid class in this country of ultra-liberals, libertarians and arch-conservatives, represented by Fox News, that claims we are acting just like a totalitarian state.


Have we forgotten Nixon?

Compare today's surveillance with the Communist hysteria in the 1950s when using the word "peace" in public could sabotage your career.

Or, how about the internment camps for Asian-Americans during World War II?

Or, Jim Crow laws after the slaves were freed?

Or, slavery itself?

Not to mention our treatment of Native Americans.

What is happening now is relatively minor when compared with our past misdeeds.

That doesn't make it right, but it puts it into the proper perspective.

Plus, less than 1 percent of Americans have any skin in the "war on terror." And, now the 99 percent is complaining.

We rely on enlistees to sacrifice their limbs or brains or even their lives, while the rest of us go on shopping. Okay, we didn't shop as much during the Great Recession because we didn't have W. cheerleading us to do so.

The point is, homeland surveillance, whether we like it or not, is here to stay.

It is up to us to make sure it doesn't get out of hand. And, I have faith in this country that we won't let it get out of hand.

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