I mean, come on! Did we honestly believe we had any real privacy since J. Edgar first came to power in 1919, led the Palmer Raids and named future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter “the most dangerous man in the United States” for, among other things, founding the ACLU?
Did we honestly believe we had any real privacy after we learned the FBI spied on Dr. King and every other civil rights leader and follower? Infiltrated virtually every Vietnam anti-war organization? Photographed people who attended any other type demonstration? Or, collected personal data on those who protested military and corporate recruitment on college campuses?
Those of us who requested our personal files through the Freedom of Information Act and noticed the multiple redactions certainly knew privacy’s limitations.
It’s never been just Spy vs. Spy; it’s always been spy on all of us.
And even more so after the Internet jumped out to meet us and we climbed right aboard. Where the information superhighway allows data to streak throughout the world and where countries’ boundaries are virtually meaningless. Sure, there were encryptions designed to keep your stuff private, but we all knew they were a joke. Easily broken, even the most sophisticated programs. Still, we sent (and send) emails to each other detailing the most private parts of our lives. We open accounts in banks without walls. We use credit cards to buy shit from stores we’ve never seen and don’t even exist in the “real” world.
Then along came social media and we all announced to our “friends” and anyone else who really wanted to know, what we ate, drank, what music we listened to along with our personal politics, opinions, and attitudes.
And people are getting upset because their calls are being recorded, our privacy invaded? We gave our privacy away decades ago but now we’re shocked? Puh-lease.
Where was all that shock when we allowed the government to pass the Patriot Act? We volunteered to forego our civil liberties in the name of security. Or, the awe when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed—fully equipped with its own secret court?
Secret fucking courts! That’s not what I believe democracy or patriotism is about.
Yes, we’ve been told that these more recent anti-democratic policies begun by President Bush after 9/11 and reauthorized multiple times since have thwarted a number of terrorist plots. Can anyone reading this post name or describe any of these plots? I mean, if they were thwarted, what possible harm would be caused by publicly telling us about them now? Unless of course it’s bullshit.
You all know the list of anti-democratic freedoms we have relinquished in the name of terror since 9/11 and the only reason the shit’s hit the fan now is we’ve discovered the scale to which Big Brother has applied the laws to which we quietly acquiesced.
Did anyone actually believe that Verizon and other telephone and internet carriers would refuse to bend over the chair when the government came calling? This angst and dram is a piss-poor excuse for our refusal to allow these un-American acts to pass and wend their way throughout our society, institutions, and mentality.
So what is going to be done about the fact that we’ve delivered our phone calls (and now the newest travesty, our DNA) into the hands of Big Brother? The ACLU will bring its lawsuits, maybe a few members of Congress will bitch and moan, and the media will express outrage as long as it garners viewers. In other words, nothing.
So let’s make a deal. Collect whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want, but unless the government can prove that any information it has will directly place a person in danger, all their records ought to be available to the public. Completely available. If our government wants to know all about me, then I want to know about each and every part of what they are doing. What’s good for the goose…
I know the naysayers will argue the government would be unable to conduct its business if everybody knew everything. But we did just fine after Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, Woodward and Bernstein exposed Watergate, when Seymour Hersh disclosed the C.I.A.’s massive domestic spying. In fact, many would argue that we did better.
But we learned nothing. Actually, that’s not true. We learned to genuflect to a government (and I mean every administration I’ve lived through) and passively allow them to do it to us all over–again and again. This isn’t what I thought the phrase “what goes around, comes around” meant.
So, let’s demand the release of every government document that does not put a human life in direct danger. And, if it’s found that someone held back information when nobody was in harm’s way, well, then it’s time to open the jail cell doors.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.