The Thought Police
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Programs as XKeyscore only hurt our society...
NSA, XKeyscore, and Prosecuting Thoughts
XKeyscore is a program designed to allow anyone with the access, to enter in 4 words or phrases to query the massive amounts of personal citizens' data, stored on various governmental and corporate servers, to examine someone's emails or browsing history/habits, their bank accounts, and numerous other data points that paint a pretty complete picture of someone's internal and external behaviors.
What Greenwald revealed introduced a level of detail in the National Security Agency's spying tactics, that essentially enable our government to collect, track, and examine every keystroke and mouse click. Senator Wyden of Oregon, on CNN, revealed that the government is not only not providing meaningful oversight of these programs, but that its reasoning behind collecting such information is unsound, non-transparent, and dangerous to democracy.
Our government recently released a few documents from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declassifying once "highly classified" files, that provide zero transparency, and only reveal the insincerity of our government to involve the citizens it supposedly serves, in the democratic process.
Even though Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has stated there have been mass violations of court orders in regards to the use of NSA programs on domestic citizens, the Obama Administration and leaders in the NSA still claim no such thing is occurring.
NSA leaders before a congressional committee recently even told us that the government is keeping an eye on the government, so there is no need to worry - even though a wise Congressman pointed out that the government missed Edward Snowden, so how close are they actually keeping an eye on things?
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, along with a small but growing bi-partisan coalition of other U.S. Senators including Senator Wyden disagree with the NSA and the Obama Administration, and are calling for serious reforms to the NSA programs, especially in regards to respecting the 4th and 9th Amendment rights of all Americans.
And what is the point of doing such spying on American citizens with zero connection to any terrorists? Does the government believe they can find or manufacture criminals or "terrorists", merely by examining the thoughts they express in writings on their computer, emails, or by viewing their browsing history and bank accounts? Or does our government want to have all this personal data to use as leverage over people they deem at odds with their goals, regardless of our right to disagree?
And how about the agents of government that are complicit in this spying and actually do a lot of the spying for our government, including private corporations who snoop on employees personal communications, and snoop on customer data.
So far, the results of such snooping have landed two teenagers in jail for posting what was deemed "dangerous" text postings on Facebook. The complete absurdity of such a reality paints a bleak picture for anyone still cognizant of their basic human rights, especially to our most important right our 1st Amendment right (freedom of speech), that's why it is first.
Another innocent citizen was paid a visit by a joint terrorism task force for Googling terms about pressure cookers and backpacks from work. What if that man was a writer, writing about pressure cookers, perhaps if he was a fictional writer, he may even have used the cookers for violence in an imaginary scene, involving imaginary characters. Would he have been arrested for creating fiction?
How completely frightening, bizarre, and all the proof you need such programs as XKeyscore only hurt our society by creating a false environment of fear and giving licenses to people in authority positions to snoop and spy on innocent people, engaging in innocuous behavior?
What is even more frighting is that our government admits that numerous visits by joint terrorism task forces to innocent citizen's homes are conducted regularly.
Prince summed it up best, "If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind, then give me the electric chair for all my future crimes'.". Perhaps we will need to update that line for this Orwellian state we surely exist in, "If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his Google search, then give me the electric chair for all my future searches."
Claude Morton, Column Editor: Claude Morton is an independent contributor, who mostly writes articles on politics, Veganism, philosophy, or local events. Claude has contributed to a variety of print and online outlets including Yahoo!, MovieMaker Magazine, and the Ann Arbor News. From Claude; I’m in the 1%, no, not that 1%. I’m a vegan, indie filmmaker, libertarian socialist, and a pacifist. I champion freedom as much as equality, and love discussing solutions about our country’s biggest dilemmas. ... (more...)