by Jennifer Sullivan
past co-chair of Green Party of Florida & Florida delegate to the Green Party National Committee
“You better watch out where you go and watch out who you know. Watch what you do, because Straight Arrow watches you.”
Why should good law abiding American citizens worry about the NSA compiling every single e mail, phone call or social network that you and every OTHER good (or not so good) American writes, makes or participates in? If you are not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry, right?
Hmm..that depends. Who decides what is “wrong”? Do you have any known or unknown enemies? Even someone who might be just a temporary enemy, because of a misunderstanding? Exes? People who are on certain meds that you know? Someone in trouble with the law maybe? How about someone who could just use some extra cash?
Well here’s the catch – and I DO mean catch.
Remember Guantanamo Bay? You know the military holding prison that the USA has in Cuba? Yes CUBA. Sort of weird by itself, as we have not traded with Cuba for over 50 years & actually have a law that we will continue sanctions as long as a Castro is in power. Somehow we have managed to hold onto some of their land for this prison.
Anyway, as you probably already know, this is the infamous place with a really bad worldwide reputation as far as torture. Most of the detainees are innocent people cleared for release. These people have never had a single charge against them & yet they have languished for YEARS in this place. Thus prompting them, in desperation, to go on a hunger strike. They now are being force fed by the prison doctors to add to the horror. These people were essentially “good” Afghanis, Iraqis, etc. who were turned in many years ago by someone that they knew. A feuding relative, a cantankerous neighbor, a business rival or maybe just an unscrupulous acquaintance who wanted some of that bounty offered by the USA as the search for Al Quaeda insurgents was in full swing (some substantial missing tax dollars at work used for this BTW). With all the hysteria after 9/11 pretty much any accusation was taken seriously.
Long story short, innocent people were subjected to torture and mis-treatment to such an extent that now the government of the USA is concerned about them being resentful. Resentful of being falsely accused and having been separated from their children, parents or their lives in general for 10 years with no end in sight. They are stuck. Some of them were even children themselves, at the time of their capture.
This is where all that NSA info on US citizens comes in. Should YOU get attention by something that you do or by something someone SAYS that you did, it’s quite likely that there’s incriminating info that can be obtained once they zero in on you. Have a Muslim friend or doctor? Ever made an angry remark or even a joke about anything that could be considered a threat to national security or solidarity? Do you thoroughly check EVERY charity that you give to? Maybe you ARE 100% personally clear. A real patriot. How sure are you that EVERY PERSON that you have ever communicated with, in any of the above mentioned ways, is as 100% as you? Have you ever clicked on something accidentally? It’s all there, waiting to be pulled up. So how does one defend themselves against a pre-crime? A question worth asking.
If you, as an American citizen, can be killed now and questioned later (and now you can) is that okay with you in the interests of the homeland? The simple fact that the REAL threats to our country are breathing a bit easier, now that they will be further shielded from detection by ginormous haystacks of info on every Tom, Dick and Harriet, is worth a focus, too.
According to experts, actual catching of the really bad and dangerous types WAS enhanced by targeted and legal surveillance using warrants. They don’t stand out anymore, by suspicious behavior. Now that the bar has been dropped so low, we are ALL potentially suspicious.
There’s even more to it.
When they do this data mining, they are not JUST selling our eyes to advertisers, to monitor our shopping preferences, places we go and favorite “likes”. It’s meta data that can be accessed by insurance companies seeking to protect their bottom line or by any other entity who’s interested. We should all know, by now, that corporations have insatiable & irrational greed to stay ever more valuable to their stockholders. Out of work? You have eyes on you. Name a situation & YOU can be inserted into it for some sort of profit for someone.
Freedom of the press is not just being interfered with by the big advertising clients, it’s now directly threatened by DOJ, other state department employees and private contractors. Whistle blowers and journalists are the new “threats” to our national security. These days, it’s considered extremely bad form to report criminal behavior— IF the “criminals” have vast sums of money and/or power of some sort.
Shall we ignore this assault on the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments, where anything you’ve ever said can be held against you? Your first amendment rights could very well be your LAST rites. Interestingly, it’s STILL a federal offense for someone to open your actual US mail, so that’s safe for the moment, until it gets privatized.
As Pontius Pilate so famously asked: “What IS truth?” The truths from Wikileaks, Anonymous, and the free presses of papers like The Guardian can be seen as either pure and enlightening or dangerous depending on the POV and the who the holders of power are. Can government ever make a bad law? Is a government. controlled by the less than 1%, going to be fair to the rest of us? This is a crucial issue, so please pay attention while you still can.