America is dead. America remains dead. And we have killed it. Yet its shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?
By now everyone should know that the United States government is spying on every single citizen, collecting nearly all data on us, and combing through it, allegedly to protect our security. This did not begin with President Obama, or even his predecessor and the PATRIOT Act. This has been in the works for nearly seventy years. When President Eisenhower left office in 1960 he warned of the "military industrial complex," and this threat, enabled by the advancement of technology, has morphed into the hyper-national security state that exists today and is shredding our constitutional rights right in front of our eyes.
The Fourth Amendment is clear and specific:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
And it is so for a reason.
Glenn Greenwald made perhaps the most important point about all of this when he said, "The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that's why they're called public servants. They're supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we're called private individuals."
Nearly two and a half centuries ago this was obvious to wealthy white slave-owning men that our government should only be able to violate our (assuming you weren't a slave, woman, or native person) privacy in response to a specific incident in which there is probable cause to suspect us of wrongdoing, and even then we are innocent until proven guilty in a civilian court of law.
This nationwide dragnet is a complete reversal. Everyone is a suspect, and our being secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” is violated before a crime has occurred.
The argument, “If it stops criminals then I’m okay with it,” really adds potency to Benjamin Franklin’s infamous comment that, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
As for the argument put forward by Google's CEO that we shouldn't worry unless we are doing something wrong: keeping Greenwald's point in mind, this argument is only true for the government. The NSA program has been going on for at least six years and we are just now learning about it. Apparently the federal government knows the spying is wrong, otherwise it wouldn't have been such a carefully-held secret.
Furthermore, violating our constitutional rights under the banner of protecting us is simply bullshit. It is fearmongering to justify a power grab.
The threat of “terrorism” comes chiefly from our government’s foreign policy. One country who makes up five percent of the world's population, yet accounts for half of the world's military expenditures, has a thousand foreign military bases, routinely carries out military attacks around the world, bullies any country who dares lifts its head, and props up brutal governments to ensure certain corporations have the kind of access to foreign markets they want is not a recipe for peace and security.
At the turn of the 21st century, the leftist social critic, Noam Chomsky, wrote, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."
We are witnessing something similar with this latest NSA revelation. The spectrum of debate is how much rights we should give up for security, with virtually no discussion about the what really "threatens" us. "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” President Obama said. “We're going to have to make some choices as a society." It is arguable that were an honest debate to take place about the nature of empire we would conclude: If there is anything that needs to be sacrificed to protect us it is the Empire, and not our constitutional rights, because we can’t have them all—security, rights, and an empire. One has to go.
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