Adult Americans need to fire the government overlords.
The recent furor involving data collection by the NSA, as disclosed by Edward Snowden, is significant not because of what information has been obtained but by the real potential for abuse.
The abuse of government power and position is real and prevalent. Consider the following examples:
* In Conway, Arkansas on the 24th of January 2012 Duncan Outfitters, a motorcycle parts company, was raided by the IRS. For several hours no outside contact was allowed for the employees as they were kept under armed guard. The reason for the raid was an investigation into various deposits made by the business owners over the years. This could have been handled via subpoena with no armed lock down necessary. See here for a reenactment of the event: http://youtu.be/Z8mkqI_dVJg It may require taking your blood pressure meds.
* Gibson Guitar of Nashville & Memphis Tennessee has been raided twice, ostensibly due to it's use of imported wood. More storm trooper tactics by the IRS as cited here: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/052313-657569-gibson-guitar-raid-like-tea-party-intimidation.htm?p=full
* An Alaskan inventor was jailed for two years just because the Feds felt he should be: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/07/21/heritage-house-law/ as the story also points out, it doens't pay to raise orchids either. Although the Federal agency involved is never named, a safe bet would be the EPA.
* Back in April of 2009 the TSA saw fit to harass a Ron Paul campaign worker: http://targetfreedom.typepad.com/targetfreedom/2009/04/ron-paul-campaign-for-liberty-worker-detained-at-missouri-airport.html
And the beat goes on.
A common sentiment heard during these incidents is "We're with the Federal Government and we can do whatever we want.". Public servants indeed.
The overreaching authority of the Feds is seen in other areas. The TSA, an agency that can be credibly argued has never nabbed an actual terrorist http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2010/11/does_the_tsa_ever_catch_terrorists.html,
also has authority to conduct searches within the nation: http://autos.aol.com/article/tsa-screening-drivers-in-tennessee/ So we now have an agency known for groping 5 yr. olds in wheelchairs and their great grandmothers, able to extend their search into our daily commute to work or the store.
Lovely, just lovely.
As shown by the dates of the various posts referenced so far, the arrogant obtrusiveness of the Feds is no new thing and it spans party lines. In Priest Lake, Idaho the Sackett family (no, not the ones from Louis Lamour's novels) were harassed by the EPA for attempting to develop their own land. See here: http://legalplanet.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/supreme-court-sides-with-property-owners-in-wetlands-dispute-with-usepa/#more-14133 Please note the outrageous fines the couple were threatened with. Our tax dollars at work.A more sobering assessment is here: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/erikajohnsen/2012/04/13/sackett_v_epa_the_battle_is_won_but_the_war_is_just_beginning
detailing that this is only the beginning of a long legal row to hoe.
I can also cite the actions of the FBI at Ruby Ridge, the catastrophe involving the Branch Davidians at Waco and the completely over-the-top raid involved in sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba. No hyperlinks needed, I'm sure.
Set against the backdrop I've presented, is it any wonder many of us object to the indiscriminate collection of personal information by the government? The potential for misuse and abuse is significant, to say the least. IMHO it isn't a question of "if" but "when".
Is this data collection even necessary? Under the pressure generated solely by Snowden's disclosures it's been averred that 20 terrorist plots have been thwarted. Really? Before accepting that claim as fact, the American public is entitled to greater details of all twenty (I'll note there has also been rumors the plots were discovered under programs other than PRISM). Admittedly not all questions can be answered due to a plausible threat of personal harm to unnamed informants. A need for confidentiality DOES exist. But is it all inclusive?
It doesn't help that these twenty plots only come to public light in response to the current scandal. Are we to believe that in the name of security we're never to be told anything specific regarding efforts on our behalf? If that's the case it sounds like we're being sold a pig in a poke.
When is the American public considered mature enough for more information than we've received? Aren't we entitled at a minimum to know what groups were behind these terrorist efforts? Or does that run the justification of mentioning potential right wing extremists right off the rails? Doesn't the use of our tax dollars entitle us to know exactly what groups have our worst interests at heart?
Are we really so helpless we actually need this cosseting, constant monitoring to apprehend and counter various nogoodniks? I believe John & Joan Q. Public are more able to defend themselves than inhabitants of Foggy Bottom want to believe. For proof of that, look to how various civilians acted in the apprehension of Richard Reid (the Shoe Bomber) and his Underwear Bomber counterpart.
A good example of official overkill vice the effectiveness of the man in the street is shown in the apprehension of the Boston Marathon Marathon Bomber. For the better part of a day the Watertown area of Boston was locked down as the cops did a house-to-house search. AFTER they sounded the all clear a local homeowner went onto his back deck for a smoke and discovered the bomber hiding out in his boat. Maybe the authorities should have just handed out complimentary packs of cigarettes to all the residents and told them to call if anything seemed amiss.
One of the justifications of the NSA snooping I keep coming across is, "Do you want another 9/11 type attack?" That qualifies as a stupid question for two reasons; 1) Of course nobody with an ounce of common sense would want that. 2) We as a people are different in our response to terror threats since the morning of 9/11/01.
That difference is shown by the willingness for average citizens to defend themselves now. We've learned that just sitting back and watching the show is no longer an option.
Consider this; the only weapons I've ever heard mentioned in connection with the skyjackings of 9/11 were box cutters. My initial thought was "there had to be something more." Box cutters are not in the same class as Samaria swords, they're tools with a small blade used to cut open box ends. Throughout my life the idea of threatening someone with a box cutter has always ranked one step above using a butter knife.
But there really was something more in play that day, it was attitude. An attitude of officially sanctioned passively sitting back and watching what might happen.
Since skyjacking took off back in the 60's the American people have always been told to just sit back, stay calm and when the plane landed in Cuba or wherever there would be a repatriation effected by our government. With rare exceptions (Robert Stethem, R.I.P.) this policy worked. So on 9/11/01 three schmoes could board a jetliner and successfully threaten an entire crew and their passengers with what was actually little more than a Swiss Army Knife.
We learned that day that the game had changed. The passengers and crew of Flight 93 showed what had to be done. Since then we've seen in incidents I've already cited that John & Joan Q. Public can take a part in defending themselves. Boxcutters? I pity the fool that tries a repeat of that one!
So why do we need to be treated like a bunch of children? Why aren't we being given information about who makes attempts on our safety? Both the Bush and Obama Administrations have encouraged the general public to be watchful and aware of anything unusual. Wouldn't more information on just WHO to be aware of be called for? Yes, it runs the risk of "profiling". Well guess what Sweetpea, if 85 yr. old women suddenly started strapping on suicide vests I'd keep an eye peeled on my own mother! "Profiling" be damned, the safety of my family comes before any PC bullarkey.
If the American public is more informed on who to look out for, will we need programs like PRISM? Did we need them in the first place?
Hey, maybe by the disclosure of that knowledge we'll discover the DHS really HAD a reason to send out a memo regarding right wing extremists ( https://www.voniz.com/vlibrary/document/dhs-memo-right-wing-extremism-in-current-economic-and-political-climate) Maybe we'll find out why the FBI has seminars on the threats posed by pro life groups (http://www.lifenews.com/2010/09/30/nat-6740/ )
I seriously doubt it, but you never know.
The American People need to be treated like adults. We need to know when programs like PRISM are being carried out, why they're in place and how successful they are. Granted, there will be many questions left unanswered due to security concerns. But since we're footing the bill for the invasion of our privacy, we have a right to know.
We also have a right to have a say in whether that privacy gets violated in the first place. We ARE adults and we don't need anyone doing things for "our own good" that we will object to.
The government is made up of public servants, not overlords. It's way past time to make that point.
O/T, but what happened to Ignorant Redneck? I can't find him anywhere on the net.
Steve, he had mentioned shutting his blog down and starting another. I hope he somehow notifies everyone when that happens.
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