Recent polls show that, despite the Senate’s torture report, most Americans still support the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on suspects. Obviously the mainstream media misinform the public, neglecting to tell them that such torture techniques do not even produce reliable information and are mainly used to extract false confessions from innocent detainees.
And on the National Security Agency’s spying on innocent Americans, people love it, and then they hate it, and now they’re back to loving it again. Alas, Most people are ignorant of the actual criminality being committed by the federal goons.
But one American who shows enthusiastic support for NSA intrusions, a Federal Appeals Court judge, says that privacy is “overvalued,” and that “much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct.” If some unauthorized individual intruded into his cell phone, one would find a picture of the judge’s cat and some emails.
“What’s the big deal?” Judge Richard Posner asked, contemptuously wisecracking, “Other people must have really exciting stuff. Do they narrate their adulteries, or something like that?”
So, yeah, he’s all for NSA spying on innocent people without any reason to suspect them of anything.
He is one of those, “well, if you have nothing to hide. . .” kinds of judges, so people should just let government goons have complete access into all their personal information. After all, it’s in the name of “security” and to protect us from “terrorism.”
Never mind the fact that the government and its enforcers having the power to search people’s cell phones, get information on their calls and emails or search their cars and homes is a power which makes the people less secure. And that is the kind of power which enables government tyrants to terrorize the people, as Michael Rozeff correctly noted.
But the obedient defenders of the State and its sick criminality seem to assume that the NSA and other State enterprises such as CIA,TSA, etc., really are protecting people from terrorism.
Like DC District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer, who rules based on not wanting to “second-guess” the CIA and its authoritarian judgments, Judge Posner believes that we needn’t second-guess the NSA, as its agents’ authority and judgment ought not be questioned.
So, what kinds of security-protecting deeds have the good folks at the NSA actually been doing that we shouldn’t be concerned about? Well, according to Glenn Greenwald, we know that the GCHQ (Britain’s NSA equivalent) presented the NSA with classified documents on GCHQ’s own sleazy tactics of posting false material on the Internet to destroy reputations and turn people against one another. And GCHQ’s main targets are not even alleged “terrorists” but private companies just doing business, and political activists.
That sure sounds like they are protecting us from terrorism, if you ask me.
And, according to James Ball of the U.K. Guardian, we know that NSA and GCHQ have been infiltrating online gaming networks such as Xbox Live and World of Warcraft to collect gamers’ buddylists, profile photos, geolocation information and chats. But Ball notes that there is no evidence that such gaming network infiltration has thwarted any terrorism plots or even that members of any terror groups actually use these kinds of gaming networks.
A main purpose of such warrantless Internet intrusions is to put together biometric information of gamers and others. Governments just love to have as much information on each individual as possible such as biometric information that includes facial recognition photos, location, personal associations, etc., despite the overwhelming number of false positive matches and incorrect facial recognition results those databases give officials. Such databases of personally identifying information are just as unreliable as fingerprint databases and DNA testing as well.
But Judge Posner says, “What’s the big deal?”
And according to Glenn Greenwald, the NSA uses a tool called XKeyscore to collect “nearly everything a user does on the Internet.” With XKeyscore all the NSA agent needs is a user’s email address or IP address, and is only required to fill out a form giving some general rationalization for such criminal intrusions that don’t even require a warrant. Greenwald notes that NSA agents “can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.”
Obviously, Judge Posner is very comfortable with all this. He isn’t exactly doing a Danny Thomas spit-take when hearing about all this stuff. What could possibly go wrong? And there are many other Americans who don’t mind their personal lives being an open book for the government, despite so much potential for abuse, such as blackmail.
But the truth is, only the most naive and gullible could endorse such powers of intrusion wielded by the State. (Or someone who has been blackmailed, of course.)
As the ACLU has pointed out, J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI and the Chicago Police Department used private, personal information to intentionally blackmail politicians and members of religious and political organizations. I’m sure other law enforcement agencies and bureaus have been doing exactly that since the days of J. Edgar Hoover and 1970s Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.
From an interview with Peter B. Collins, Washington’s Blog quotes NSA whistleblower Russell Tice, stating that the NSA has been spying on and targeting “high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress … lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House …”
And Washington’s Blog also quotes other government whistleblowers such as William Binney, Sibel Edmonds and Thomas Drake as to the various blackmail schemes of these criminal government spy agencies.
The NSA, FBI, CIA – the agents of all these bureaucracies take oaths and swear to obey the U.S. Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights, yet they seem to violate such oaths every chance they can. (Oh, wait – CIA Director John Brennan took his oath of office using an early draft Constitution, without the Bill of Rights included. Never mind, as Emily Litella would say.)
But there are some CIA or NSA employees who really do believe in upholding their Constitutional oaths. Former CIA officer and torture whistleblower John Kiriakou is the only CIA officer in prison – not because of torturing people, but because of revealing information about the CIA’s torture.
But Kiriakou in an interview asserted that the CIA clearly didn’t care about his possibly revealing classified information, as they encouraged him to write op-eds and do interviews as a way to use such communications against him even though information he gave was cleared through the agency.
Kriakou concluded throughout his ordeal that “everyone is corrupt” in that agency. Or most everyone, that is. And the same thing is probably the case in all these other criminal agencies, NSA and so on.
I just can’t imagine anyone with a moral conscience actually inflicting the kinds of sick, deranged and sadistic torment on others as CIA agents have committed.
And I can’t imagine anyone, such as NSA personnel, with any moral conscience actually listening in on people, recording or videotaping them, breaking into their emails of phone calls or their cars or bedrooms without any suspicion, and “digging up some dirt” to use against innocent people including judges and military generals.
But “if you have nothing to hide …” as some judges have asserted, you should be okay with goons watching you and recording your actions. Alas, those who guard themselves against criminal intrusions and attempt to protect their private lives are labeled as “suspicious” in the eyes of the State and its statist defenders, toadies and dupes.
Sadly, “those who resist being inventoried present a problem for the state,” as Wendy McElroy observed.
Yes, honest and moral people are a problem for the State.
As McElroy points out, there should be one standard of morality. If it’s wrong for your neighbors to dig into your private life, it’s wrong for government agents.
To cure the problem, NSA whistleblower William Binney and several other well-intentioned government whistleblowers have presented 21 recommendations toward reforming the NSA. But the truth is, it is impossible to reform an agency that is part of a monopolistic governmental “security” apparatus, unless it is de-monopolized and we remove restrictions on free competition.
In any case, Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger has the best solution I’ve ever heard: Abolish the NSA.
And the CIA has outlived whatever usefulness it may have had after World War II, so we should get rid of that, too.
In fact, as Hornberger has suggested, it really is the entire evil National Security State that has long ago outlived whatever usefulness it may have had after World War II. So the real solution to restoring freedom and security is to thoroughly dismantle the entire National Security State apparatus, root and branch.