The president defended the NSA's all-seeing eye Friday by drawing parallels between Paul Revere and the NSA: "At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee, born out of the Sons of Liberty, was established in Boston. And the group’s members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early patriots."
He gave this speech backed by a wall of five American flags.
Throw in some red, white, and blue and we have a Patriot. May we tell tales of heroic government hackers and invasive officers right up there alongside Crispus Attucks and Patrick Henry through all generations.
It's not just the president as lone marauder on our liberties, though.
If you believe that it is, you are wrong.
Too often we hear, "Did you hear what Obama did?" as if he is a one man destroyer, or as if he is the evil ring leader of those Evil Democrats.
Yet, here are the words of republican Mike Rogers, at the time the head of the House Intelligence Committee, as he defended NSA invasions of privacy: "You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated."
You got that? That is the logic of our elected official, the TOP elected official that is supposed to be our advocate in balancing power: if you don't know you are being spied on, you are not being spied on.
As my wife points out, that means if you don't know someone is peeping through your window, then the peeper is not peeping through your window.
This was an outrageous exchange from Rep Rogers over this issue You must watch it as two "privacy law" experts say "I agree" with him while one law professor, Stephen Vladeck of American University, stands up to him, somewhat. Rep. Rogers, incredulous at being challenged, illogically mocks his detractor's logic.
It's not just the President. It is not just Mike Rogers. It is not just democrat or just republican. A few months ago, the parties voted together to vote down real NSA reform. Now we have pretend NSA reform from the White House stage and trumpeted as a victory on every Sunday morning talk show. In the meantime a bill of real substance is buried by republican leadership in the the dank depths of the committee grave, like some victim in a Edgar Allen Poe story.
Maybe you think it doesn't matter. Maybe you buy the president saying, "We are trying to find that balance between privacy and security because you can't have both."
Maybe you are one of those who laughs it off, "Haha, they can listen in to my phone calls if they want. I'd probably hear them snoring before too long." Hilarious.
They can peak in your window, that okay? Would you say, oh, "We're not doing anything wrong, just watching tv."
Do you think it doesn't matter? "Oh, they aren't really listening to my emails or phone calls or looking at my bank records. They said they are just looking at the time and number called. It doesn't matter if they know that I or anyone else is seeing a psychologist, getting birth control, calling a bookie, part of Occupy or Oath Keepers. It might matter if J. Edgar Hoover was in office today, but perhaps there are only good guys today??
Or some say, "Anyway, they said they aren't checking in unless their computer catches certain words -- or if I'm in the circle of contacts of someone who they are checking out. In fact, the president just announced this reform: they will only track outward through two circles of contacts instead of three. Phew, at two hundred contacts per level, that is only 40,000 people that they are entitled to apply an automatic warrant. That's a number I can live with. That's not so bad compared to 8 million people that currently lose their rights per one suspect."
or maybe, "Yeah, sure, I don't care, and they can track everywhere my car goes (bill S1813) and how I accelerate and brake. Doesn't matter, I'm not going anywhere bad."
No, President, the proper historical parallel is not Paul Revere and his fellow patriots. What the revolutionaries said in the Declaration of Independence and set in stone in the Bill of Rights was just the opposite. They said that the government could NOT come in to the home or search once personal effects without a sworn warrant acquired through due process. They said that the troops could not be quartered in the home. They said that everyone deserved an advocate on his side.
Is having the police force sitting in the home, listening to the conversations, digging through the file cabinets any different than having the governmental powers accessing our computer files and phone calls remotely. Is it somehow okay when the data is not in our homes, but is out among the servers of the providers and in the cloud? Is that any different than storage or lockers outside our home but still in our control?
No, President, the proper historical parallel is the Brown Shirts, the SS, any bullying force of any society that claimed to be balancing privacy and security, that claimed it could come busting into a home without a warrant (er, Boston suburbs last year), that could lock people up without lawyers (umh, our Attorney General now), that would blackmail or punish people based on files of information (civil rights movement in the sixties, IRS scandal), that would deny the existence of programs, meetings, and UN treaties until their own documents are exposed by whistle blowers and then insists they are harmless anyway.
THERE IS NO "BALANCE" BETWEEN SAFETY AND PRIVACY. Safety is through our Civil Liberties. Safety is in having a standard that guides governance and protects individuals. That standard is the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is not a buffet to pick and choose from. When there is no standard, there is no safety.
Are you going to say it doesn't matter? Are you going to say it is too late? There is nothing to do? Are you going to say that the Constitution is not realistic, that the world is too complex now? Are you going to say you don't have the time?
As Ben Franklin said, "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
The hour is grave because of what we have forgotten.
And now there are two (er, three?). Did it matter which? After watching the debates, it seems being AGAINST Liberty is now a campaign technique. And the winners are . . . (not the Bill of Rights).
Target date is 2030
Take a failed issue. Give it a righteous new name. Get people begging for government salvation. Ram the details through in secrecy. Paranoid indeed.
A must read: on the surface it is about the people who work behind the scenes for Trump. More deeply, it is an expose on the way the world really works. How are we brought to believe what we believe?
FIA acquired emails document favorable treatment for favorable treatment
How do banks keep fees high and rates they pay low despite "Competition"? They're all owned by the same people.