Imagine a gigantic vacuum cleaner scooping up all electronic communications. That’s what the National Security Agency does. Think you are safe from NSA snooping? That you can hide behind clever passwords? Think again. The Agency has the capability to generate one billion password guesses per second. On top of that it can remotely activate your cell phone and computer and use them as eavesdropping and tracking devices. The NSA is at the center of a system of monitoring and control beyond the wildest dreams of the greatest tyrants in history. The so-called War on Terror has unleashed a war on civil liberties. White House claims of national security justify massive abuses. We have to give up freedoms in order to preserve them we are told. But hey, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about.
There is an assault on civil liberties and fundamental rights. State spying, secrecy and suppression have vastly increased. 9/11 is the pretext for surveillance that never stops giving. Both Democrats and Republicans have greatly expanded the powers of the multiple government agencies who watch and monitor us. What is called oversight is a joke. We would do well to recall Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s ringing dissent in his 1972 opinion Laird v. Tatum. This is what he said: “The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people.”
Edward Snowden’s remarkable revelations leave no doubt. Big Brother is here. The National Security Agency’s PRISM program is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance and data mining system. In plain English: it enables state spying on citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union says, “The things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. With every click, we entrust our conversations, emails, photos, and much more to Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. But what happens when the government asks these corporations to hand over their users' private information?” What happens to our rights and expectations of privacy? The Information Superhighway as the Internet was once called has turned into a marketer’s dream and a place where our messages and intimate details of our lives disappear into the NSA’s new $1.5 billion, million square-foot complex in Bluffdale, Utah.
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