United States of Surveillance
The telescreens in Orwell’s “1984” monitoring Winston Smith are crude devices compared to 21st century technology but they make the point. Big Brother is watching your every move. Today, the weapons of surveillance in the hands of state agencies have grown enormously in scope and sophistication. Basic rights are in jeopardy. Invasions of privacy such as warrantless wiretapping, intercepting cell phone messages and reading email are increasing. When those electronic interventions don’t work there are always the old reliable agent provocateurs, framing and planting of evidence. In fighting the so-called war on terror, surveillance is one of the biggest growth industries in the United States. There are always new threats. Turn the cameras on and your liberties off.
Alfred McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of the classic The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. He is the recipient the Association of Asian Studies’ Kahin Prize. He is also the author of Policing America’s Empire, Torture and Impunity and In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.