Sunday, June 16, 2013

Governments Spying On Their Citizens

Many people would say that Governments spying on their citizens appears to have become a global phenomena, but is it? It sounds like many of the countries in Europe find the revelations of the America government collecting and sifting through "metadata" as somewhat distasteful. It should be pointed out that Europe also shares many of the same problems with terrorist attacks that we in America face. It is generally thought that the countries engaged is such covert and Orwellian actions are generally paranoid states with totalitarian rulers or the non-democrat systems that exist in countries such as China, North Korea, Iran, and a host of other places.

Sadly this comes at a time that it is pulling our eyes off China's massive cyber theft of secrets from America. The story leaked by the Guardian reveals that the NSA collected, in one single 30 day period in March, 97 billion pieces of “intelligence” worldwide, including several billion culled directly from the United States. All of this reveals several things, including that Google, Facebook, and others flat out lied about not giving the NSA “direct access,” and that the Obama Administration has been lying about spying on hundreds of millions of Americans. In the eyes of the world, it leaves us unclean and lessens our claim to the high ground and as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

Some people draw a sharp the distinction between metadata versus content, and whether it is just being stored or looked at, then we have others focusing on the issue of if this is even constitutional or violates the fourth amendment. Metadata is like when you get physical snail mail, it has a certain shape, weight, and type of envelope, and an address and a return address and a stamp and usually a date and routing numbers. And it’s going to a particular mailbox at a particular address—that’s all metadata. The content is what it’s inside the envelope. In a digital space, the metadata is always associated with content, the content being the actual phone call and conversation. To some, the metadata is far more valuable to them because it gives them an index of everything and they can access the content as well with a warrant. 

It is ironic that this comes front and center at a time that a number of unrelated but troubling scandals have been surfacing. And "damn troubling" they are, but just as bad is the lack of outrage and follow through in demanding accountability. We have even seen the clowns entrusted at the highest levels of our government sit before investigative hearings and oversight boards and straight out lie to Congress. With this being allowed to happen how can claims that these programs protect our rights and responsibly use taxpayer monies have any validity. They have made a mockery of the notion that we have built in oversight, and that laws and rules are being followed. In reality one could say, we have no real oversight of government programs.

To say those in charge of government programs like Eric Holder, James Clapper, Steven Miller and others were "confused during testimony or forced to mislead Congress for a greater good" is not something that the average citizen like you or myself would be allowed to claim, we would be thrown straight into jail. We must remind ourselves from time to time these are not all about state secrets, many issues such as the IRS manipulating and discriminating against Tea Party tax status, and issues of who knew what or when at the White House concerning Benghazi should not be hidden under the cloak of national security. 

Within the confines of this mess, other questions arise, and the media and the spin machines go into full on mode. For example is the 29-year-old whistle blower of the secret NSA program Edward Snowden a hero or traitor? One thing is clear the internal system for whistleblowing inside government is broken. It is interesting to see what strange bedfellows politics make as people can come down on either side of this issue depending on past statements or which way the wind is blowing. We are easily distracted from the crux of the issue, whether the program needs to exist, and if the mind-boggling amount of money being spent on collecting and saving mountains of data could be put to better use.

I will put it here, on record, that I consider total "bullshit" the defense that it is all worth it if we stop an attack or save an American life, this type of generality, is shrouded and enhanced by fear. The largest terrorist attack on record was the poorly conceived, and a bit of a fluke, the attack on 9-11 should have never succeeded, the weapons were box cutters, and burning towers collapsed after not being evacuated. The attack should never resulted in such a massive loss of life. It is a dangerous world and attacks will happen, we must be prudent, not paranoid, we must plan for the future and utilize our resources in a way that minimizes the motivation and desire to plot such schemes. Let America go forward bravely and remember the inspirational words of Franklin Roosevelt "We have nothing to fear but fear itself".

Footnote; My apologies to anyone I might have offended by the way I have stated my feelings, but not for the feelings themselves, we all have a right to our own opinion. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged. Below is a more recent post concerning the direction of our society,


  1. I like Ron Paul's argument that what we need is more spying by the public on the government corruption, lies and finger-pointing. The problem is that there is no real punishment or prevention, so I have proposed a Constitution based on direct democracy that would close the door to the dinosaur institutions of weaponry, finance and propaganda.


  2. It seems to me many of those talking about how many terrorists attacks this program has helped stop benefit from being involved in this program. They do not see a difference between minor or major attacks, or if these attacks would have even been carried out and completed. These attacks may have been stopped without the collection of American citizens personal data. I personally am not convinced that this program justifies the costs.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more!

    A nation's citizens have lost all hope of Liberty, free choice and dignity if they are governed by men creating, ignoring and arbitrarily applying Law at their discretion.