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Monday, August 5, 2013

When Did America Become the Great Voyeur

Well, what else would you call it? When someone watches others to gain a sense of, or reality of, power over that person, is voyeurism. Our country, our political machine, and our Intelligence agencies are looking at every aspect of our lives, and no one really seems to give a shit.Why? Why are we so ready to say, "Meh, I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care?" The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DoJ, the Army, and City and State police agencies, and even U.S. Corporations, think it is their right to know exactly what you are doing every single day of your life, and you think that if you aren't doing something wrong, then it is okay. It's not okay.

Wayback Machine or How the War was Won

Ben Franklin quite famously said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Now, we have to look at what liberties are.
                         Liberty: N - The state of being free within society from oppressive                                                                restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life.
American Liberties stem from and inform our way of life. They are based in the language or our most holy document, the Bill of Rights. The first liberty that is engendered in that sacred parchment is that of Speech, Assembly and Freedom of and from Religious expression. We can say what ever we want, whenever we want and to whom ever we want. It's that freedom that defines the rest. For two hundred thirty-seven years we have had the right to be assholes without LEGAL recourse, as much as we want. The reason for this, is the fact that British Empire had a law on the books that made it illegal to speak out against the monarchy. Our entire reason for existence is British tyranny run amok. It could be argued that we were the cause of the Fall of the British Empire as an Empire. Canada, India, Australia, and a large part of Africa saw us telling the Brits to piss off, and said, "Wait a second... You can do that?" It was that ideal that inspired farmers and shop owners to pick up instruments of death and kill a lot of people, to let them know we are the only ones that get to oppress people in this country.

McCarthy and the Cold War Send Us Over the Rainbow

In the 1950's the U.S. and Russia entered this weird thing of a 'polite' war, that several times almost wiped out the entire world. It actually started in the early 1940's, around the time a short, bemustachioed maniac decided he wanted some lake front property, and "Hey, aren't there a lot of lakes in the rest of Europe. We'll just head on over there and see what they have available, and by the way why don't we make sure our good friend Joe, doesn't attack us while we aren't looking, so we can attack him later. I mean he has a lot of good ideas on exterminating most of his population. Woo-boy just look at all those bodies." After the Germans attacked Russia and died en masse, We decided that maybe we could hook up with the other crazy mustached man of the region, but it was more like that hook-up at three in the morning when you are at Denny's and not sure if the person next to you is coming on to you, or about to throw-up. Either way you could probably share a cab back to a hotel, but you really don't want them coming over to your place. But the '50's was when it got really crazy. A man named Joseph McCarthy stood on the floor of the Senate and couldn't decide how many Communists had infiltrated that most sacred institution of American life, Hollywood, but he knew there were damned Reds making movies, and probably some Jews, too.
American's were seeing Red everywhere. In the shower, on the bus, in the workplace, even on Stop signs. A kind of political scarlet fever was running rampant through the country, and a little pot-bellied, Union busting thug was in charge of the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover decided that the Red Menace was real, and decided to infiltrate every group he could think of that might have Communist leanings, Unions, Peace protesters, Hollywood, and the Blacks.

CoIntelPro
This was a program run by the FBI that really got the whole, "Let's spy on our citizens," ball rolling. According to the ACLU:

Even if it started out with good intentions, we all know where that road leads us. People are dicks, and people with power become really powerful dicks. 

Nixon loses the Country
Richard Millhouse Nixon, the 37th President of these here United States, was crazy. I don't mean he was kinda cooky, like Aunt Mabel, that insists she dated Keith Richards, even though he never came to her childhood hometown. I mean like Uncle Elmer, that insists he dated Mary Todd Lincoln, a hundred years after she died. The man was paranoid, and his paranoia was planted in those same years that Uncle Joe was shouting from the Senate floor. Nixon was a member of the committee born of those rants and raves, called the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC. It was a Senate committee that, single-handed, destroyed hundreds, if not thousands of lives, from University Professors, to senior Union Leadership, to Actors, Screenwriters and Authors. Nixon was one of the stars of HUAC. He made his name there and it skyrocketed him to a Presidential bid in 1960, and the actual Presidency in 1968.
Once Nixon got to the White House, he took privacy very seriously, as in imagining every way he could to end privacy in the U.S. He was so paranoid that he bugged the Oval Office, to make sure he knew everything that every transpired inside those walls. He stepped up domestic spying on protest groups, throughout the latter half of the 1960's and early 1970's, and even had a group of nice young men break into psychiatrist offices, and political opponents campaign headquarters, to find information. Nixon wanted to know everything the opposition knew, so he could use it against them.He was not a man to be trifled with. Mocked, ridiculed and disdained, yes, trifled with, no. It finally came to a head when several News outlets, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe started running stories about the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, which led right back to Nixon's backdoor.

George II and his War on American Privacy

According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Federal Intelligence and Surveillance Act, was enacted in 1978 to fill in the gap, of needing a warrant, but still keeping the operation itself secret. One can debate the necessity of this, but it happened. It was for a reason. The same information above skips from 1978 to 2001. Now we have 3000 people dead because several Middle Eastern religious extremists decided to turn airplanes into ICBMs, and George W. Bush decides to take on the entire Middle East, and someone told him about FISA, which he thought was a great idea, and then he decides to tell Uncle Dick, over in the smaller corner office. Dick Cheney, once said that Congress did not have the authority to restrict the President's power.

Modern Era of Domestic Spying

The Patriot Act or how Patriotism has become a dog whistle
The Patriot Act was enacted on October 26, 2001, and , basically, made it legal to spy on U.S. Citizens with impunity, due to the attacks on the World Trade Center. It seems that at some point all our laws had to describe exactly the opposite of what they were intended to do. The Patriot Act sounds like it will protect Patriotism in the U.S., while crating a society of fear and paranoia in the people that uphold the highest ideals of the U.S.. It has come to the point where we are all looking like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, or a really just a good Friday night. It was expanded four times under George W. Bush, each time the FBI had more and more power to spy on the citizenry.

Looking through the Prism of U.S. Surveillance

Prism is a basically every movie hacker's wet dream. You know how when you were watching Hackers, no not the scene with Angelina Jolie's boobs, the other one with the guys going through the "backdoor" in the mainframe? Yeah, this is about as close to that as will every really exist, except the VR portions. Most hackers just kind of sit around and hit a few keys until they information they need shows up. Now imagine the resources of the U.S. government getting behind that. That's Prism. Google, Verizon, Facebook, and Apple have all allowed or been forced to allow access to their user's information, and content records. There are arguments for their willing participation, but that is beside the point. The point here, is the Government even using this method for gathering information.
The NSA claims that they are only looking at the phone numbers and only using them to compare with known offenders. Now, I would love to trust my Government, but this seems a bit sketchy to me. This is basically like every time you walk out of your door, your neighbor yells, "Hey... hey... where you headed?" Every. Single. Time. How long would it take to get annoying? Now think about it, like he doesn't ask, he just happens to mention one day, "Hey, how's your cousin Bob doing?" even though you never told him you went to Bob's house. Kind of creepy, right. If you wouldn't tolerate your neighbor doing that, why would you tolerate your Government doing it? There is nothing your neighbor can really do with that information, but your government also knows everything about cousin Bob, like the fact that he has known criminal associates. Now let's take that a step further. You get to work one day and everyone is kind of looking at you funny, and then your boss asks, "So, what's this I hear about you hanging out with criminals?" Because this is exactly what happens, even if you don't know that someone you are associating with is committing any crimes, Intelligence agencies are Police agencies. This means they have to investigate possible avenues of inquiry. This means it is either up to you, to never talk to anyone, ever, or the Government has to limit the scope of their activities. Which do you think they will say?

Who Watches the Watchers

Whistleblowers or Traitors

Over the last couple of years there have been several high profile cases of people that decided they didn't like the way the government has been operating, and have released information regarding those activities. Bradley Manning was a Private in the military that released a document dump to WikiLeaks, because he was disillusioned in the SOP of the Armed Forces in the Middle East. Edward Snowden was a government contractor that released a stack of documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published that information, that informed the world of Prism.

Whistleblowers... as long as they aren't American

In 1997 a man named Michelle Christopher Meili blew the whistle on the Swiss banking services, knowingly destroying documents that would prove several of their accounts contained money from Jewish families, during WWII. Senator Chuck Grassley lauded his actions, even though it cost the Swiss Economy billions of dollars and was a huge embarrassment to their Government and several very powerful people. So as long as it's someone else we are totally cool with that. However when  Snowden and Manning release information that several reports have said, had no substantial impact on the U.S. aside from being really embarrassing, we have news outlets, Chuck Grassley calls them traitors.

My Thoughts

Spying is repugnant, but sometimes necessary. Spying is a dangerous, dirty, and oftentimes unrewarding job. Spies rely on the worst possible human trait, Betrayal. The spy is the one who makes friends and then stabs them in the back, when it becomes necessary or expedient, to accomplish a mission. Surveillance is a form of State sanctioned voyeurism. The person conducting surveillance is watching, listening and/or reading everything you do, but they are usually doing so for reasons that make sense to them, and again it is sometimes necessary. However, spying on your own populace is wrong. We are a country that is founded on the principal of innocent until proven guilty. We have a set of laws in place to protect individual liberty, and our freedoms. We cannot and must not give up those freedoms for a bit of security. It is a hard, nasty thought that sometimes bad people do bad things to good people who don't deserve it, but when you start treating everyone like criminals, before having any proof of wrongdoing then you are creating a society of criminals, that have no recourse, because their appellate is the very machine that put those laws into place. We must protect those that point out the warty pimples on the face of American Jurisprudence and Justice. Sometimes safety must be sacrificed on the alter of Justice. Just because it is right does not mean it is okay. Stop looking through my underwear drawer, just because my neighbor shits his pants.

Wesley Henderson 
8/6/2013
@novawitch on Twitter
novawitch72@gmail.com

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