Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Electronic Cage

Many years ago I used to listen to a radio show while I worked the overnight shift. The shows host, Art Bell, used to tell his listeners to join in with him one day a year and use certain “code” words on that day in all phone calls and emails. His stated goal was to crash the systems of those who were spying on us. Given the nature of the show I took the suggestion, at the time, with more than one grain of salt. It seems though Art was well ahead of his time.

In the world of politics I have few passions greater than the developing police state America is rapidly becoming. It is difficult realize that when I was a kid many years ago this was a free country. Thanks to decades of revisionist history and the massive liberal orientation of both the media and public education the twenty and thirty year olds out there today will have no idea what I mean by that.  In spite of or, because of that, our government is slowly but surely herding us into a vast and insidious electronic cage and few seem notice let alone care.

The cage is being built in two stages. One stage is open and obvious, the other hidden carefully from view. Consider the efforts by the Kenyan little Barry to fully militarize the nations police forces, as if small town America needs armored personnel carriers and cops dressed for action in Iraq. A frightening side effect of cops dripping in weapons and hanging off the aforementioned APC’s, intentional or not, seems to be the attitude many now have that “anything goes” as long as it get them “home safely” at night. I am as big a supporter of law enforcement as you will ever find but even I don’t see the need for SWAT teams and caravans of armored personnel carriers to be called out for every infraction. 

Also in the open, consider how his administrators create thousands of regulations each year. So many that no one can possibly be aware of, let alone comply with all of them. Is it possible that some of these regulations are intended to make us all criminals of one sort or another? 

On the invisible side there is the pervasive, invasive and intensive level of spying on ordinary Americans who have done absolutely nothing wrong. Our phone calls, emails, texts, social media activities, TV viewing, web surfing, movements and even shopping habits are now routinely observed and stored for future use. The government can now track us through our smart phones at will. They can turn on the cameras and microphones of our phones and computers without our knowledge. Am I the only one worried about this level of snooping?

Federal, state and local law enforcement are more and more using both license plate readers and facial recognition software to track the movement of both vehicles and people. This technology is already in place on many street corners and inside many buildings. I expect there are drones flying over the US right now equipped with the latest versions of that type of software, capturing and storing vast quantities of data on innocent citizens. Why is this necessary?

Finally on the invisible side have you heard about the NSA’s Mainway program? The NSA hopes the program will soon be able to capture 20 billion “record events” daily. Are there 20 billion criminals in our country that need daily watching? Mainway collects metadata so, according to its defenders, it’s harmless unless you have something to hide.

Metadata is not the anonymous data sets the NSA would have you believe. This information can reveal a great many things like, your location, when and who you call (your counselor for example) and provide a wealth of other information like political or religious affiliations, patterns of attendance as well as organizations you may support. Cross-referencing your metadata can show the NSA who you were with, where you were with them and when you were with them. What if someone you know has a hidden criminal past? Will the NSA assume you are guilty by association? I would bet the farm on it.

The obvious issues like the mind numbing quantities of new regulations, militarizing of local police forces or even the packing of a federal court can be dealt with openly by courageous political leaders that have taken the time to familiarize themselves with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

There can be no tolerance though for needless government spying on innocent citizens. I have no problem with police listening in on criminals phone calls/emails etc as long as they have established sufficient probable cause through a real court first.

Several things are clear to me. First, our Bill of Rights days are numbered. Second, the Kenyan little Barry is well into conditioning a generation to accept unconstitutional levels of intrusion in their lives. Third, there can be no acceptable reason to gather and store 20 billion “data events” on ordinary citizens a day. Fourth, the militarisation of local police has little to do with law enforcement (anyone remember Boston right after the bombing? New Orleans after Katrina?) Finally, just writing this will no doubt put me on the NSA/IRS/TSA watch lists. Sadly for you, so will reading this.  

Still think you’re in a free country?

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