There are true threats to our country and we rely on the government to keep us safe from these threats. Allowing them tools to accomplish this task is necessary. What is also necessary is for us as a nation to uphold the freedoms and ideals we all share. Otherwise, what the hell are we fighting for? What is it exactly we are protecting?
They say there is an attack on our freedom and that it is terrorists that are to blame. The truth is much more frightening. There is an attack on freedom but the threats are the fear mongers within our own government. They have attacked our freedom and won; and they did it through weaponizing fear. They say that it is for our protection. We sacrifice some freedom so that our armed forces can protect the rest. They called us conspiracy therorists. When their lies were exposed they told us it was for our own good, and anyway, what is the problem if we have nothing to hide? When the U.S. Patriot Act was signed the largest outcries were from a group that no one expected; Librarians. They warned of the egregious evil that would come of this violation of privacy and liberty, but very few listened, and the problem just got worse.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would trade their freedom for their protection deserve neither.” As we learn more details of the reach of the NSA we are finding that it is not only our citizens being victimized by this criminal behavior but also the citizens of our allies.
“The NSA’s access to, and storage of, the content of communications of UK citizens may also be contentious in the light of earlier Guardian( a publication in the UK) revelations that the agency was drafting policies to facilitate spying on the citizens of its allies, including the UK and Australia, which would – if enacted – enable the agency to search its databases for UK citizens without informing GCHQ or UK politicians.(James Ball)”
In response a spokesperson for NSA once again claimed they do nothing wrong.
“Dishfire is a system that processes and stores lawfully collected SMS data. Because some SMS data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in Dishfire.
“In addition, NSA actively works to remove extraneous data, to include that of innocent foreign citizens, as early as possible in the process.(Oliver Knox)”
However it was Dwight Eisenhower, a former five star general who warned of how dangerous this type of organization would be. He stated that,
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.(Oliver Knox)”
Seven years ago President Obama had an outlook that reflected that of Eisenhower. In a speech he made in 2007 he said, “This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary. This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMvzoKucwUM)”
It did not take long for him to change his tune. Once the illegal collection of data by the NSA was exposed the president came out to defend the unlawful actions.
“To say there’s a tradeoff doesn’t mean somehow that we’ve abandoned freedom,… I don’t think anybody says we’re no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports. (Oliver Knox)”
“At an August 2013 press conference, President Obama underlined: “The programs are operating in a way that prevents abuse; that continues to be true, without the reforms. The question is how do I make the American people more comfortable.” In 1961, Eisenhower tried to make Americans more mistrustful of the encroachments of a national-security state. In 2014, Obama is trying to win back their faith, as he made clear in a December 2013 press conference.(Oliver Knox)”
“This is only going to work if the American people have confidence and trust,” he said.(Barack Obama via Oliver Knox)”
Confidence and trust are earned. The trust part being lacking as of late. Our own country labels whistle-blowers as threats to our national security, even when the information they leak does in fact prove that there have been breaches to that trust. Edward Snowden remains in exile and Chelsea Manning remains in jail, not to mention the many others that suffer similar fates for violation of a prison yard mentality that our own government has seemed to adopt. “Snitchs get stitches” should not be American policy. Ignorance and blind faith for those that are in power to have our best interests at heart is the worst kind of naivety. The reach of the NSA has even extended to the point of spying on the citizens of our allies. To expect that violation of trust will not have dire repercussions is utterly ridiculous.
“Former senior NSA executive and SAAII Awardee Emeritus Thomas Drake has written that Manning “exposed the dark side shadows of our national security regime and foreign policy follies .. [her] acts of civil disobedience … strike at the very core of the critical issues surrounding our national security, public and foreign policy, openness and transparency, as well as the unprecedented and relentless campaign by this Administration to snuff out and silence truth tellers and whistleblowers in a deliberate and premeditated assault on the 1st Amendment.(David Swanson)”
“An NSA spokesperson reiterated to The Guardian that “the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false,” adding that the agency’s activities “are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements.” On Dishfire specifically, the spokesperson said “privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in Dishfire.(Josh Lowensohn)” And we should believe them. After all you could hardly suggest that they lied about tracking SMS information in the first place…right?
For trust to exist the formula our government uses in response the exposing of their crimes must change. Lying, denying, and then demanding trust when there is overwhelming evidence that our trust is consistently betrayed is bad governing. There must be transparency and accountability in our administration as well as evidence that the administration will cease the unwarranted and criminal action against our citizens as well as our allies.
Ball, James. “NSA collects millions of text messages daily in ‘untargeted’ global sweep.” The Guardian.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/nsa-collects-millions-text-messages-daily-untargeted-global-sweep
Knox, Oliver. “Obama NSA speech on anniversary of Eisenhower warning, .” Yahoo News. N.p., 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2014. <http://news.yahoo.com/obama-nsa-speech- on-anniversary-of-eisenhower-warning-025532326.html>.
Swanson, David. “Chelsea Manning Awarded Sam Adams Integrity Prize for 2014.” N.p., 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2014. <http://www.international.to/index.php?option=com_content&view=ar ticle&id=29319:chelsea-manning-awarded-sam-adams-integrity-prize-for-`2014>.
Lowensohn, Josh. “NSA’s ‘Dishfire’ program said to capture nearly 200 million texts a day.” www.theverge.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/16/5316178/nsas-dishfire-program-said-to- capture-nearly-200m-texts-a-day>.