Spying on Americans is a Divisive Issue?

December 16, 2007 | Filed Under Activism 

I know we live in an era of highly polarized politics, but shouldn’t there be some issues that are so deeply offensive to our sense of liberty, that Americans can join together to combat the evil? In my mind, there is nothing more evil than a government that desperately seeks to control popular opinion and people by spying, censoring, and controlling the media. It is frightening the extent to which our personal space has been invaded by government. The NY Times published an article that highlights some of the problems that I’ve been writing about for over a year now.

For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door briefings by top officials, to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.

The acts of our government are highly suspicious and even conspiratorial in nature. Essentially, what they are saying is “We can’t trust anyone, we require authority to carry out the law to its fullest extent.” While, I don’t advocate chaos and I certainly don’t believe in an entirely liberal and lawless society, I do struggle with the idea of heightened “security” at home, especially when it is done so recklessly by our eager leaders in Washington.

The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed.

Again, I understand that the war on drugs will be more difficult to carry out, but even if we relent some and allow our agencies more authority to carry out their jobs, we can’t allow technology to be an excuse for all out invasions of personal space. I don’t want government in my bedroom, I don’t appreciate them snooping in innocent American bank accounts and/or medical records. There’s a moral line which can and has been crossed and I’d like nothing more than our government to be put in its place on this issue.

How far is too far for you? When will Americans stop snoring as our government rapes and pillages the foundation that safeguards our personal lives and relationships with families, friends, and children.

In a separate N.S.A. project, executives at a Denver phone carrier, Qwest, refused in early 2001 to give the agency access to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls, according to people aware of the request, which has not been previously reported. They say the arrangement could have permitted neighborhood-by-neighborhood surveillance of phone traffic without a court order, which alarmed them.

I admire those Americans who don’t believe a line has been crossed, but I think it was crossed long ago and if we don’t hold our public officials accountable for our future, they will surely destroy our Democracy as we once knew it. I love America just the way it is, in fact, if we could roll back a decade, I’d like it even more.

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