The president’s new proposals do not change the fundamental principal that the government on a massive scale is violating the fundamental right to privacy that every American has, and the specifically guaranteed right to privacy in the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t say all spying is illegal. It says spying on all of us is illegal. So, if the government wants to spy on a conversation you and I are having, it goes to a judge and explains to the judge why in that conversation it will probably learn of some criminal activity. But, that doesn’t give the government the right to get a warrant or the judge the right to issue a warrant to spy on everybody in the state of New Jersey or Bergen County in order to capture just you and me.Watch the interview here:
Indeed, the United States government’s mass spying program in many ways goes far beyond the methods of surveillance imposed by past governments inclined toward exercising total control over the people subject to those governments’ power.
The Transportation Security Administration and US Customs and Border Protection, along with police employing stop and frisk, routinely harass people with the long popular authoritarian demand, “Let me see your papers.” However, much of the US government’s privacy invasion activities have moved into the creation and use of massive, searchable databases of information, including regarding our private conversations and financial transactions.
The US mass spying program also snoops on and records our physical movements via cell phone location information, surveillance cameras, license plate readers, financial transaction tracking, and other means. With the click of a computer mouse, a government bureaucrat can see much more information about us than an agent of a totalitarian government of old could read on required “papers” stuffed in our pockets or collect from spies’ and informants’ reports.
John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute reports in detail earlier this month a multitude of ways the US government harnesses the powers of modern surveillance against the American people. Whitehead applies to the surveillance system the unfortunately apt appellation “the electronic concentration camp.”
A totalitarian aspiration is to move the doctrines of prison administration beyond the prison walls. In prison there is little privacy. Cell bars not only restrict prisoners’ movement, they also eliminate the privacy a solid door would afforded. A prisoner’s body can also be denied privacy. Strip searching prisoners and requiring public showering, urinating, and defecating can reinforce a prison doctrine that the prisoner has no self-ownership. This particular comparison may seem peculiar except that the US government has already routinely subjected people traveling through American airports to scanners producing naked photographs through their clothes and full body “pat-downs” -- treatment analogous to strip searches and frisks in prison. The “electronic concentration camp,” reinforced by the TSA, CBP, and other police, appears to be on the rise.
Whitehead includes in his report an important question for all Americans, “The question now is: will we take a stand and fight to remain free or will we go gently into the concentration camp?” Hopefully Obama’s deceptive speech will be ineffective in lulling many Americans into choosing totalitarianism over freedom.
UPDATE: Here is the Judge today discussing the decision of the president's Privacy Board that the NSA mass collection scheme is illegal and has done nothing to keep us safe: