Tuesday, June 25, 2013
On a radio show I heard on the way out to Holbrook last night, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer with the Partnership for Civil Justice, was putting the NSA spying program in the context of the massive spying on, and infiltration of activist groups -- Occupy, environmental groups, etc. -- uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, and the recent change in Department of Defense policy that allows the military to quell domestic civil disturbances without presidential authorization. She talked about the US government's awareness of and planning for the potential for large-scale social unrest as living standards decline and hope fades, and the fact that today's young people are aware that they face a future without the promise their parents' generation had.
They aren't just collecting the data Edward Snowden talks about for a rainy day, and the government isn't upset about Snowden's revelations for nothing. Post 9-11 hysteria saw the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which established "Fushion Centers" around the country to facilitate information sharing among the various federal and local law enforcement agencies. These centers are staffed by agents of these law enforcement arms and have access to, and feed information into the secret government databases we've been hearing about. They were supposed to be for preventing terrorism, but FOI documents show that they devote much of their effort to spying on American activist groups -- environmentalists, Occupy, etc. -- as shown in a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, summarized in this article in In These Times, which links to the report.
The Bill of Rights, The Constitution's prohibition against secret courts, it's explicit protection of privacy, all of it was set up because we know there are flaws in human nature. We know. And yet incrementally we are letting those safeguards go. As they go, we can expect the flaws in human nature to re-exert themselves.