With inequality at an all-time high and the world struggling to deal with it the questions emerge: is this planned? and why do we seem so unable to defeat the plutocrats who claim they ‘own’ us?
Obama promised that his presidency would be the “most transparent administration in history” which proved to be a lie. Extending Bush’s warrantless spying program was bad enough. Now his administration has exponentially increased the power of the NSA to collect citizen’s personal data.
Not only phone records, but the actual calls themselves are being siphoned off into server farms operated and curated by unaccountable, for-profit corporations under the direction of American security agencies. But it’s doesn’t stop at phone call. The powers granted ad-hoc to these security agencies have extended their tentacles of surreptitious keyholing to include major social websites like Facebook, Google tools such as Google Talk and GMail, Skype, Yahoo and Apple hoovering up all of your posts, chats, voice messages, and video chats.
The sinister part is that in the eyes of the government, you don’t get to decide if you’ve done anything wrong or not. Cory Doctorow puts it like this; “You should care about privacy because if the data says you’ve done something wrong, then the person reading the data will interpret everything else you do through that light.” And once accused they will mine this data pile for your past communications to use against you. Personnel and computer algorithms will be deployed to find keywords and pattern in your speech and thought. Aaaaannnnd…you’re fucked.
Even if you did nothing, you Might be considering doing something, or something. Precrime in the real world is way cooler that in a movie, because in the real world when they arrest you you don’t have to meet Tom Cruise.
Worse, however, is that they may decide to freeze your assets and bank accounts, you know, to make sure you don’t have any illegal, undocumented money you are holding out on them. Hey, it’s not your picture on the money, so it’s not really yours anyway. This is done so that you will not be able to afford a lawyer who might possibly get you a not guilty verdict. But no worries, you can have the government appointed lawyer. He’ll get you off, right? Don’t forget to thank them.
Privacy, of speech and of though, is of the utmost importance to us all. If you had no need for privacy, you wouldn’t have curtains on your windows.
The problem is that it isn’t the gov’t that’s doing this, it’s private security corporations, in this case, Booz-Allen-Hamilton.
“Governments can be accountable, transparent and responsive to the people, if we choose to structure them that way.” while corporations are accountable only to profits and have no interest in “we the people” and don’t have to answer to us, as laws in place make them immune from both scrutiny and prosecution.
When the security of that country was done by the actual gov’t itself it was answerable to the electorate and often, famously, held accountable for it’s misdeeds.
It’s been only since the neo-con overthrow initiated by Regan/Thatcher/Mulroney et al that the idea that “gov’t is bad” and needs to be handed over to corporations to run has come into being. I wonder how many of the “government is the problem” folks of today are the same “government should be run like a business” guys from the 80s and 90s.
Time was when these programs had to be run, more-or-less, with economic efficiency. Now the same programs cost magnitudes more and are growing exponentially as more “markets” for security are identified. The current US outlay for theses guys is over $500billiion/yr and their CEOs make obscene amounts of this, and are unaccountable to you and I. Well, “them” really, because it’s US stuff. These corp’s turn that profit around and lobby for ever expanding spending and markets so as to enable an even more profitable security industry.
Though these companies are, and privatization in general is, touted as being of superior efficiency, compared to the gov’t, they are actually are far less efficient and wasteful by virtue of their massive profit motive.
They are also exactly the opposite of democratic. Internally, they are completely totalitarian, top-down structures unaccountable to their own employees. Externally they are not accountable to no one.
Our elected representatives are tasked with enacting the will of the people; they serve us. Corporations sever only themselves and the profit motive.
When Wells-Fargo collects data it OWNS that data, and in tern sells, rents or licenses it to other agencies. It’s far preferable for the gov’t to OWN national citizen data that a private company.
In the US their constitution provides for a free press and a system of congressional and legislative checks and balances. The security firms, by their very way in which they are legally set up are not transparent or internally knowable. It’s been said that corporations are, structurally, kingdoms. So there’s no way for citizens to monitor, police or correct abuses done by these corporations. There will be no Freedom of Information requests forthcoming.
So for people like Edward Snowdon, who see the inherent danger in this kind of arrangement, there was no way for him to bring up his concerns within the company. Seeing what he saw, he had no choice but to became a whistle-blower. It was his company he was exposing, not the government. Giving his life for the cause of freedom, democracy and the law makes him, not Public Enemy #1 but the most courageous man in America.
It’s a telling feature of the growing Empire that preemptive war, is not only good for us, it’s good for the victims as well.
Susanne Nossel, current head of PEN American Center, a writers organization that will soon be used to coral writers into the more positive belief that perpetual wars are really good things, used to run Amnesty International USA where she presided over the pro-war PR campaign of “Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan––NATO: Keep the Progress Going.”
Infiltration, by people convinced that America must use it power to force the world into submission, are becoming increasingly mainstream. And while those on the Right want to punish, subjugate and profit from America’s expansive policies, it’s the insidious notion, coming from the Left, that we must use military power as a force of good, to bring beneficial changes to other nations even if it’s against their will, that is going to be the ultimate PR gambit that finally succeeds in bring us all into the flock of the church of the awesomeness of perpetual war.
For a very insightful read on this topic, see Chris Hedges article at www.TruthDig.com