Authors Note: If you do not want to be on any government watch list I suggest you exit this site immediately and go somewhere else where you will be safe from the prying eyes of our government. Or, if you believe that you have nothing to hide and aren’t worried that your government is watching your every move, please, read on. But be forewarned, you may regret that decision by the time you finish reading this.
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
I know I must sound like a broken record sometimes; repeating the same subjects over and over, but I cannot remain silent while I hear people say the most idiotic things in regards to laws, or actions taken by our government, which circumvent or violate your rights.
The complete disregard some people show for their rights, and the willingness to surrender those rights for the presumed safety promised by those who violate them, is something I will never understand. Do people not realize that our Constitution came very close to not being ratified, and therefore our system of government not having been established, had a Bill of Rights not been promised if the States would just adopt the proposed system of government first?
You see, back in the late 1780’s the people valued their rights enough that they would rather have rights without government than government without rights. To ensure that the rights they fought so hard to secure for themselves persevered for future generations many of the Founders demanded that they be enshrined in a Bill of Rights; placing them beyond the ability of the government to violate.
But for the Bill of Rights to retain its force it required that the people value their rights to the same extent as did those who ensured they were protected by Constitutional Amendment. That simply has not happened. Not only do people not value them, they do not even understand them.
One possible explanation for this phenomenon is offered by Alexis de Tocqueville, “Another tendency, which is extremely natural to democratic nations and extremely dangerous, is that which leads them to despise and undervalue the rights of private persons. The attachment which men feel to a right, and the respect which they display for it, is generally proportioned to its importance, or to the length of time during which they have enjoyed it. The rights of private persons amongst democratic nations are commonly of small importance, of recent growth, and extremely precarious; the consequence is that they are often sacrificed without regret, and almost always violated without remorse.” (Democracy in America)
Whatever the reason may be, people simply do not know what their rights are; or they simply do not care as long as their government claims that the violations of them are done to keep them safe. This is a dangerous belief to hold because it begs the question: How many of your rights are you willing to sacrifice to be kept safe?
In 1774, two years before writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote something called A Summary View of the Rights of British America, in which he stated, “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers (administrators) too plainly proves a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery.”
If the complete unfettered enjoyment of your rights is the definition of freedom, then what is the definition of slavery: the complete loss of all your rights? If each successive change in the administration of government brings about an increased loss of your ability to enjoy your rights, does that not prove that your government is doing exactly what Jefferson warned of in 1774; reducing you to nothing but a slave?
I hear all the time from people who call themselves patriots that our Bill of Rights does not protect terrorists, or non U.S. citizens. It is this justification which appeases their consciences when our government violates the rights of others to protect the people of America from terrorism. Yet to question these acts causes one’s patriotism to come into question. It’s as George Bush said, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
But what this shows me is that people do not understand the basis for all those rights protected by the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Those rights are founded in Natural Law, a concept which believes that ALL MEN have certain unalienable rights that cannot be violated without the grossest of injustices.
In that same document mentioned a moment ago Jefferson also states, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
All the time we hear politicians talk about transparency in government; as if what our government is really doing is a matter of public record. How much of what our government does has been classified and placed beyond the eyes of the general public in the name of National Security? How many of our rights have we lost under that same banner? And finally, when will it end; when we are finally declared safe, or when we finally realize we are slaves and have no power to resist?
The recent presidential election shows me that little concern is placed upon limiting government to the powers given it by the Constitution or protecting our rights. The two sides; left and right, battled long and hard against each other; slinging mud and insults at each other and the followers of both candidates lined up behind their contender voicing their undying support for the one they felt best qualified to become the 45th President of the United States.
Never once did either side stop to ask if what their candidate was promising was Constitutional or not. Never once did anyone from either side ask if the government’s violations of their rights would end with the election of ‘their guy/gal.’ This only shows me that these things are of little importance to the average voter; only that their guy/gal wins. Being on a winning team is more important these days than being on a team that stands for the same values our Founders stood for.
I have written before on the subject of our government’s spying upon us in the name of fighting terror. Yet even my pitiful attempts to inform you were but a fraction of what our government is actually guilty of. It’s like William Blum, former State Department employee, said, “No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is far worse than you imagine.”
The powers that be will fight tooth and nail to keep their activities against the people of this country hidden in the shadows. They work in concert with the news media; hyping the justification for such actions as essential for National Security, and condemning whistle blowers who reveal the depths of our government’s violations of their rights.
Under the banner of fighting the War on Terror, no right has come under attack so violently as our right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to our Constitution states, “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.”
I truly think that if people could see the extent to which they are monitored, or the ability the government has of monitoring them, they would pick up whatever was handy and march on Washington D.C. and confront their representatives demanding that this spy apparatus be shut down immediately.
Getting back to Mr. Blum’s quote, I have always questioned some of the things I had learned about the capabilities of our government to spy upon the American people; and my concern that these abilities violated my right to privacy; but I never dreamed of the extent to which this is possible until I saw the Oliver Stone film Snowden.
Although there was probably a great deal or creative license taken in the interactions between the characters, the adherence to fact was of great importance to both Stone, and Snowden; who collaborated with Stone via a series of interviews prior to making the movie. After watching the film my jaw was left hanging and one thought hung in the air unspoken, yet there nonetheless: My God, if they can do that how can we expect to keep anything secret from them.
Which brings me to another point. I have had numerous people tell me that if I have nothing to hide I should not be concerned that my government is spying on me. In the bonus features of the dvd there was an interview with the cast of the film, Stone, and Snowden via internet connection in Russia. While discussing that very question Snowden made a valid point by saying, “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.”
The right to privacy is one of the most sacred rights protected by the Bill of Rights. To be able to retreat into your home and be safe from prying eyes and ears, to have your innermost secrets protected from intruders is fundamental to the concept of liberty. It is the reason the 4th Amendment was included in our Bill of Rights.
Now that right has all but been annihilated in the name of keeping this country safe; and nobody seems to care.
Did you know that at this very moment, if you are reading this on a laptop, a desktop with a camera, or a smart phone the government may be watching and listening to you without your knowledge? They have that capability; to turn on without your knowledge, the camera and microphone of any electronic device and use it to spy upon YOU.
Did you know that they have software that can take any word, just as a Google Search Engine does, and find every Tweet, every text message, every internet search, every Facebook post, and every phone conversation regarding that keyword, or phrase? So, if they wanted to find out who had mentioned, or searched the internet for information regarding the mating habits of monkeys, all they would have to do is type those parameters into their program and every individual who showed any interest in that subject, or mentioned it in a Tweet, text message, or phone conversation would become available for their viewing.
They could single out an individual who they believe to be suspect of suspicious behavior and monitor their phone conversations. Then they could reach out to every single person that individual contacted and begin monitoring those individuals. Then they could go out and find every person those people had been in contact with and begin monitoring them. Eventually, if they followed this web out they would be monitoring every single individual who uses some form of electronic device to communicate with others.
And most of this is done without the 4th Amendments requirement for “… probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
If this is fact, things that our government sought to keep secret from the American people, what else can they do? Maybe the stuff of Hollywood spy films is not so fictional after all. Maybe films like Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman are closer to the truth than you realize. Maybe the surveillance capabilities in these spy films are generations behind the true capabilities of the NSA and the CIA.
I remember reading Nineteen Eighty Four in school and joking about Big Brother. Well Big Brother would be jealous with envy if he saw what our government is truly capable of. And it is not just the U.S. government that is doing this; it is a global phenomenon. Although our government may have certain technology that is far more advanced than that of other countries; every government is spying upon the people who inhabit that country to a certain extent.
How can people claim to have any privacy at all when things like this are going on and the people are oblivious to it, or don’t care that it is happening?
Right this very moment this is just an article I am typing on my computer at home on my word processing program. I am pretty sure that I am relatively safe from prying eyes until I post it on my blog. Once those keywords become public record I will be flagged and identified and stored in some data base as suspect; if I haven’t been already that is.
If the shit should ever hit the fan they will know who I am and I will be one of those they seek to neutralize as a potential threat.
I do not know how many of you have seen the Marvel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but there is a scene in that movie when Captain America and the Black Widow find the depth of the corruption inside the agency they work for. They encounter a computer data bank with the memory and mind, if you choose to call it that, of Doctor Arnim Zola, a fictional scientist for HYDRA.
Zola tells them: “HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D. For 70 years, HYDRA has been secretly feeding crises, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed. … Accidents will happen. HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”
How close is that to what has actually happened is a question I will leave you to ponder yourselves. All I know is that I was concerned before when it came to my government’s ability to spy upon me and the rest of the people in this country; now I am truly frightened.
And if you had any sense of what liberty means, or truly understood why they included the 4th Amendment in the Bill of Rights, you would be too. How much more freedom and privacy are you willing to give up just to feel safe? Will it end when you are confined to your home and cannot leave without permission from your government, and under the watchful eye of the NSA and CIA.
Let’s hope it does not come to that; but if you don’t wake up soon George Orwell’s fiction may become your reality.