Ceaseless surveillance of We the People
September 13, 2011
More of us, including the new generation, are becoming aware of what the report “Surveillance in the Homeland” (truth-out.org, Aug. 22) describes as the state of our personal privacy: “Our phone calls, our emails and website visits, our financial records, our travel itineraries, and our digital images captured on powerful surveillance cameras are swelling the mountain of data that is being mined (by the Obama administration) for suspicious patterns and associations.”
This ceaseless surveillance was unimaginable to America’s founders, of course, because such technology was nonexistent in their time. But can we call ourselves a self-governing constitutional republic when we are subject to this increasingly familiar government invasion by local as well as federal government officials? I heard this recently from Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, where I live: “When you see something, say something!”
Like what? It’s up to us to make what connection? No hint for us?
This call to report to police or the FBI suspicious behavior by anybody has led the American Civil Liberties Union to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (aclu.org, Aug. 25) “challenging the government’s failure to release documents about the FBI’s nationwide system of collecting and sharing (with other intelligence agencies) so-called ‘Suspicious Activity Reports’ from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”
I make a point of following debates and releases among Republican 2012 presidential aspirants, and never once have I heard any concern about this omnivorous tracking of, as the Constitution begins, We The People. What does Gov. Rick Perry think of it? President Barack Obama, of course, thoroughly approves of this obliteration of our privacy to protect national security – without any of us being told we’ve been targeted.
This eGuardian program, begun in 2009, explains the ACLU, “allows the FBI to collect information about vague and expansively defined ‘suspicious activity’ from law enforcement and intelligence officials across the country, as well as from the public.”
Yes, from the public. If one of us utterly detests a neighbor or someone where we work, why not report him or her to the authorities for “suspicious activity”?