Where’s the Outrage?

I’ll bet that if the FBI went through your neighborhood and community house-by-house conducting searches without warrants, you’d be the first one to scream bloody murder and call the newspaper, your elected representatives and tell everyone you know how you’d been violated.

Further, I’ll submit that if you discovered that some miscellaneous US intelligence agency opened all your mail while it was at the post office, scanned it and stored it, you’d raise holy hell.

Lastly, imagine driving home after work and instead of the legally sanctioned random highway stops, your State Patrol stopped and searched every single car? I’ll bet you’d go ballistic as would everyone else on that highway and it would be a major incident covered nationally.

Then why aren’t people outraged over something that is actually happening and is on a scale bigger than any of those three hypothetical examples? The revelation that the National Security Agency is doing exactly that and domestically (which they’ve always been mandated not to do) allegedly on all internet traffic without anyone’s approval or oversight is deeply troubling, but I’m wondering why people aren’t in the streets protesting and filled with rage.

Our Bill of Rights contains a fourth amendment to our Constitution which 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.

Vacuuming up every piece of data for analysis is, in any reasonable person’s mind, illegal and a violation of that amendment. This warrantless wiretapping has now devolved into a debate on whether or not the telecom companies (e.g., AT&T) will be granted amnesty against lawsuits for just going ahead and violating the law because our current Administration asked them to vacuum up all internet traffic and telephone calls so it could be analyzed. They just rolled over and complied.

On the flip side, I can’t imagine being in law enforcement or intelligence circles in a day of the internet and easily available cryptography software and methods. It’s laughingly easy to live on the DarkNet and share encrypted phone calls, instant messages and files. Even understanding the magnitude of that surveillance problem — and combining it with my knowledge of the software and systems that already exist to be used for massive data mining operations — it still doesn’t justify tossing out the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and our liberty while also making the American people suspect that any personal data could easily be handed over to the government by corporations who then receive immunity from prosecution.

Faced with that hard problem — and the boogeyman threat of terrorism — still doesn’t make me willing to bend over and allow our government to probe my every digital orifice with their sophisticated tools. I’m not going to give up my liberty that easily. You too should be outraged and motivated to do something about this warrantless wiretapping. The data you produce, the calls you make, the web sites you visit should not be vacuumed up en masse and analyzed without probable cause, warrants and oversight.

Here’s the thing: those three examples I outlined above are so outrageous to you BECAUSE YOU UNDERSTAND AND CAN VISUALIZE THE HORROR AND THEIR ILLEGALITY IF THEY ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Unfortunately, most of you are not aware of how powerful the current state of data mining, pattern matching and encryption decoding is and that is why most people just shrug and expect that someone else is going to be outraged and do something about it. This warrantless wiretapping is invisible and painless, you don’t really know what’s happening or the scope of this vacuuming, so you go on about your business while being electronically profiled on a massive scale.

A QUICK STORY
10 years ago my wife and I were in Germany at a trade show and went out for dinner. Trying to decipher a menu at an outdoor cafe, an impeccably dressed woman interpreted for us and ultimately asked us to join her for dinner.

She was the wife of a German department store magnate and during our three hour dinner together I had ample time to ask many questions about the lead up to WWII and the rise of Naziism. These questions had troubled me for some time — and I’m a bit of a lay student of history and had relatives still in Germany at that time (my great, great grandparents emigrated in 1856 from a little town west of the Rhine) — and I was burning to ask them.

This woman was well versed in the rise of Naziism and I asked away. One that made me most curious was why the German people so easily allowed the Jews to be ‘marked’ with armbands, starting the persecution which led to the Holocaust. “Where was the outrage? The protestations?”, I asked. She gently helped me understand that doing so would’ve violated the social contract Germans had with the government which they’d long ago allowed to control many aspects of their daily lives: the government kept meticulous records on everyone; required such things as petitioning the government before selling/buying a home and moving; and various other intrusions into personal lives and privacy.

nazis-judenWe read a lot about Joseph Goebbels and his propaganda prowess during that time as well as the fear the German people had of the SS and the brownshirted thugs. But the German people were already unbelievably accommodating to violations of personal privacy and other social intrusions by acquiescing to all demands and not speaking out about basic rights.

I submit that this is precisely what most people in this country are doing now: just shrugging and saying “whatever” and allowing this to occur.

OK….now that I’ve shamed you into taking action, here’s a one-stop-shop on how to do it: go to StopTheSpying.org and within moments you can easily make a couple of phone calls and make your voice heard.

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2 Comments

  1. Arnie McKinnis on November 10, 2007 at 9:21 am

    OK, you got me — and at some point, there will be a change in the Executive Office – but change can either go one way or the other. Great article.



  2. Ken Kennedy on November 11, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Great post, Steve. I’m 110% with you here, but I have to admit, I hadn’t seen StopTheSpying yet (or I missed it in an email somewhere.) That’s a great, simple site…I will be posting myself and sending some more email.

    Thanks!



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