On September 11, 2001, as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, I turned to Lorri and said a second plane was no accident. As I was preparing to head out the door to school, I said our lives wouldn’t remain the same and that our freedoms would be compromised.
And they were. The Transportation Safety Administration measures nearly drive me to a catatonic state whenever I fly. The Patriot Act made librarians responsible for knowing the material I checked out of the library. Congress passed the Patriot Act once and then they renewed. They gave the National Security Administration ridiculous power to spy on “foreign” communications.
All intelligence agencies grew dramatically after 9/11. According to a July 1,2010 Washington Post article by Dana Priest and William Arkin, the number of agencies and contractors involved in gathering intelligence grew dramatically, and the number of Americans with top-secret security clearances numbers 854,000. The amount of new construction devoted to intelligence gathering in square feet equals three Pentagons.
So when Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA’s “data-mining” requests of Verizon, I was not shocked. I already thought this stuff was kinda, sorta going on. When the Washington Post provided details of the Prism project that allowed the government to monitor on-line activities occurring on big internet providers like Google and Facebook, somehow I was not surprised. When Congress approved the measures of the Patriot Act, they opened the door to just this sort of activity. Our elected representatives, responding to the fear after 9/11, happily sacrificed our right to privacy to fight the War on Terror.
So I’m pretty amused about all the outrage going on. Congress suggesting they didn’t know this was happening is just crap. Congress authorized it, and in theory the intelligence (??!!) committees oversee the implementation of the law. What’s really hilarious, in a horrifying sort of way, is the American people, according to recent polling are just shrugging their shoulders.
My hope was that when Obama was elected we’d find a way to end all this nonesense. But he’s been just as intrusive as the Bush administration was. Though the president has assured us that nobody is listening to our phone calls, and the ISP’s assure us nobody is watching our internet use, I’m not sure how much I believe them. Even if that isn’t the case, the situation is ripe for abuse if someone wants to do so. It’s time to wake up and realize our civil liberties are being violated and it’s time to put a stop to it.