“I don’t care if the government reads my mail or tracks my phone call. I have nothing to hide . . . if it makes us safer, I am for it.”
Such naïve pronouncements might be expected from average folks. But it’s bad when a Republican U.S. senator feels the same way. As South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham stated, “I’m a Verizon customer. I could care less if they’re looking at my phone records . . . If you’re not getting a call from a terrorist organization, you got nothing to worry about.”
Really, Lindsey? Tell that to those illegally targeted by the IRS. They hadn’t done anything wrong, so there was nothing to “worry about.” But that wasn’t the case, was it? And tell that to AP reporters whose constitutional protections were callously cast aside by the government on a witch hunt.
For the record, the government that did those things is the exact same one that is, and has been, pouring over private phone and email data of Americans via the National Security Agency. Not a few probable-cause targets, but millions who never received “a call from a terrorist organization.”
So forgive Americans who aren’t comforted by assurances that they have nothing to worry about from Big Brother. And excuse their belief that this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
And what is their rationale for spying on us?
Easy. The nebulous, catch-all buzz-phrase of “national security.” But who is protecting us from our overzealous “protectors?” Who is watching the “watchers?”
President Obama said, “It’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.”
Glad he cleared that up.
One hundred percent security and 100 percent privacy don’t exist, as there are no absolutes in life. But this domestic spying is beyond the pale.
Are America’s leaders so insulated that they believe spying on citizens is the best way to “prevent a terrorist attack?” That trampling the Constitution is acceptable to beat al-Qaida? And that disregarding freedom, privacy, and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure is OK, since it’s in the name of “protecting the people?”
Frighteningly, yes. As a result, the government has seriously deviated from being of the people, by the people, and for the people.
If we continue toward totalitarianism, jettisoning safeguards in the name of “security” (whatever that means), then just hoist the white flag. America will have become just like the enemies it proclaims to abhor.
So why are we punishing our own in the name of fighting our foes?
1) Spying without probable cause is, or at least used to be, illegal. But the NSA has been doing this for decades from its Fort Meade, Md., facility. Their technology, exponentially more advanced than anything else, has intrusion capabilities beyond comprehension, allowing free reign over every aspect of our lives.
2) Do we really believe government won’t go to the next level, assuming it hasn’t done so? Has there ever been a government that hasn’t eventually abused expanded powers, proving that “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely?”
3) Is it even working? Beyond the always-vague and conveniently unverifiable “we stopped a domestic terrorist attack” line, is this destruction of privacy worth the cost? Did their searches and data-mining programs stop 9/11? Nope. But a competent FBI supervisor using common sense might have.
Instead of listening to the Minnesota agent begging for action because well-funded Muslims fitting a terrorist profile were taking flying lessons without learning how to land, nothing was done. The rest is history.
Ditto for the shoe and underwear bombers, both foiled not because of NSA spy programs, but terrorist incompetence and courageous passengers. Did the NSA prevent mass shootings, or the Boston bombing? No.
And did the spooks’ super-computers stop the Times Square bomber? He tried to bomb New York, fled to the airport, bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East (Red Flag One), in cash (Red Flag Two), fit a terrorist profile (Flag Three), and here’s the kicker: boarded the plane despite being on the Government No-Fly List. Which qualifies as Red Flags Four through 100.
Human intelligence has been replaced by an over-reliance on technology. It’s bad enough it doesn’t work very well. But to lose our freedoms because of it? No way.
4) We violate American lives in the name of stopping terrorism, yet because of an allegiance to political correctness, refuse to utilize the tactic which thwarts more terrorism and gain more intelligence than anything: profiling.
5) Everyone has something “to hide” because anything can be taken out of context by an unscrupulous agent for extortion and blackmail. The potential for abuse is astronomically high, a price Americans should never have to pay.
Ben Franklin said it best: “Those willing to give up liberty for security gain neither and will lose both.”
How right he was.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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