Top 7 Reasons Why the Growing Surveillance State Ought to be Troubling for Everyone

Frankly, every Christian, every Jew, every Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Scientist, every homosexual, and every woman should be concerned about the growing Surveillance State.  I will explore my Top 7 Reasons Why the Growing Surveillance State Ought to be Troubling for Everyone.  They are:

  1. The Growing Surveillance StateComputers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe
  2. Probable Cause, Relative Truth, and the New Wrongdoer
  3. Back to the Future
  4. Consistent Cultivation of a Complacent Citizenry
  5. That’s Entertainment
  6. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
  7. The High Cost of Elites with Power


Let’s take them one at a time.

(1) Computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe.  We’ve heard it now from numerous sources.  We have heard it from the President to Congress to CIA/NSA Directors to Justice Department Officials to pundits on daily news analysis programs, “No one is reading your emails or listening to your phone conversations.”  NoOne.

Wake up, America, maybe no human being starts by reading your emails, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a computer isn’t a person.

You see it every day.  When you apply for a job on,  or even directly to large corporations, you won’t find an army of human resources worker bees sifting through paper copies of your resume and cover letter.  Computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe are scanning your documents, looking for key words, important phrases, desirable attributes, and at times, personality profiles that elevate one person’s resume to personal review and another to the cyber wasteland.

Or perhaps you’ve wondered how Google is using your emails to target advertising.  They do not have a super-secret location somewhere in California or Utah, a magical Land of a Million Cubicles inhabited by expensive employees reading all your emails.  But they do have computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe scanning your emails looking for key words, important phrases, and shopping/viewing habits that might make you suited to different advertising.

It’s the age of artificial intelligence.  It’s the age of analytics.  It’s the age of natural language processing.  It’s the age of computer information technology that is here, eliminating the need for One, Body, Person, or Me to do the dirty work of intelligence gathering when we have computers that will do it for us—faster, cheaper, and more efficiently!  Computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe are the ones doing the data mining.

Years ago, Bil Keane of Family Circus fame, added an invisible gremlin to his comic strip.  Interestingly it was named “Not Me” (introduced April 1975).  This gremlin stood by watching the family’s children respond to “Who did this?” by shifting blame for rummaging through purses or spilling milk or breaking something. Their answer was always, “Not me.”  At one point Thel asked her mother-in-law if she ever had to deal with such absurdity which caused Florence to say, “Well, I’m sure that he has been around at least since I was a little girl.” At that point Florence has a flashback to her childhood and her father demanding to know, “Who scratched my new Glenn Miller record?” while the gremlin “Not Me” was watching with self-satisfaction.

“Not Me” has been around for decades and shifting blame has been around since Genesis.  Computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe just make it possible to shift blame from humans to technology.  But consider this fact: It takes people to program the computers, write the code, and to tell the computers what to seek as they dig to find probable cause and evidence of wrongdoing.

(2) Probable Cause, Relative Truth, and the New Wrongdoer.  In an age of disappearing truth and the rise of redefined evil, we have a new wrongdoer.  With computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe (and the people who stand behind them) finding probable cause in private emails, any government assurances that my data are just being stored are worthless assurances.  The idea that NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, or NotMe is technically reading what I write is the stuff of piecrust promises.  Easily made.  Easily broken.  Especially when a wrongdoer is to be found under every political rock.  I’ve got a big Cross shaped target on my back as a vocal Christian and one doesn’t have to search far and wide to know exactly what I believe.

It’s as simple as this: Scans are completed and probable cause is determined without ever literally “reading” someone’s mail.  But then judges sign off and the emails go in for personal review.  We understand this situation from daily life.  An employer’s computer scans the resume and job application but we also know the eventual job interview will always be with a real person.  In this same way, government people are programming the computer.  There are people developing the algorithms, people writing the code, but there are also people behind the desk involved with identifying wrongdoers.

Who is the wrongdoer?  What defines a misdeed or probable cause for a crime? 

Well, it depends on who’s in charge. 

For Hitler, wrongdoers included anyone Polish, all Jehovah’s Witnesses, genuine Christian pastors and priests, political dissidents, homosexuals, people of African descent, disabled people, gypsies, and of course, every Jew.  They didn’t actually have to do anything wrong.   They just had to have probable cause to be standing in Hitler’s way of his pursuit of the Aryan nation.  They became an enemy of the state by disagreeing with a political agenda.  Had Hitler been granted access to the kind of technology available to us today, the Holocaust as we know it would have been a drop in the bucket compared to the possible carnage.

Stop using the Hitler example, you might argue.  He was an anomaly. 

Well, the type of power-hungry megalomaniac he represents is not that uncommon.  He’s just a notable member of that class.  So, imagine for a moment that Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad had access within the CIA or NSA through some low level staffer with a security clearance to all the foreign emails that the US government acknowledges having to monitor terrorists.  Imagine how the war would be different.  Instead of having a prominent, visible massacre of people that gets reported on the news with bombs, fire, smoke and chemical weapons, one could simply have many coincidental deaths.  Poisonings in their homes, targeted specifically at enemies of Assad.  Individual snipers and mercenaries could shoot individuals one at a time in random locations.

A systematic eradication of one’s enemies can be a massacre or ethnic cleansing,

even if it is annihilation of one’s enemies by a million little cuts.

(Oh, that would never happen here, you say.  Really?  Historically, Christians have been dragged from their homes, impaled, fed to the lions, hung on crosses, stoned to death, beheaded, tortured, and burned alive.  It’s in the Bible and the persecuted church knows it all too well.)

When truth and lies are no longer our benchmark of good and bad behavior in America; when religion has gone out the window; and when a longstanding Judeo-Christian moral code of conduct is subverted by fancy lawyer tricks and legalese, NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe can do a lot of damage.  Probable cause is all they need and NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe are programmed to provide it.  They can even find wrongdoing where no actual wrongdoing exists.  You just hang with a bad crowd from time to time, or maybe got a phone call from someone who dialed wrong, or an email from someone who can’t spell.  The technology is here.  The train has left the station.  Who’s driving this runaway train in search of “wrongdoers?”

(3) Back to the Future.  Let’s face it: You can never go back and change the future.  The technology is here to stay.  While there’s no going back, it might yet be possible to install some diverters to prevent the train wreck now, given the train has left the station.

Oversight is about all that we can do.  Bring what we have into the light and expose what is truth and what is a pack of lies.  Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying,

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates”–(From “On Freedom of Speech and the Press,” Pennsylvania Gazette, November 17, 1737).

Freedom of Speech and the Bill of Rights’ guarantees against search and seizure of personal, private property aren’t just words on a page.  Guarantees of protection for the right to peacefully assemble as protestors and dissidents…these are guarantees; not just filler.  It wasn’t called the Revolutionary War because it was new and improved.  Our forefathers were true revolutionaries in the best sense.

The revolutionaries wanted popular examination as a check against tyranny. 

That’s transparency.  That’s honesty.  That’s visibility.  That’s looking at, studying, and analyzing what the government (of the people and by the people) is trying to do TO the people.  Scrutiny is all we can do to mitigate where we’re at in America.  The train has already left the station.

Individuals in our government cry foul, insisting that scrutiny helps terrorists know how we detect them.  Really.  What planet do these people live on?  It doesn’t take a computer whiz to know that if Google can scan emails, so can the US or any government.  It’s not brain science to know that anything written and anything spoken can be disclosed.  Even things encrypted intentionally to protect privacy can be broken and understood by modern hackers, not to mention the US government.

This is nothing new.  Even back in the day, things were heard through the grapevine.  Snoops have long existed.  Gossipers have done a lot of damage.  And let’s face it, evil people have existed since Cain killed his brother and said the famous words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Nowadays, the answer is still “Yes” we are supposed to look out for the welfare of others.  But the excuses are different today.  Today, it was “bad intelligence” not incompetent or evil people.

Technology is the new bad guy on the block, infringing on everyone’s Constitutional rights. 

It’s those darned gremlin computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe who are always to blame.  They’re the silent-silent partners.  They’ll never come forward.  They’ll never whistleblow on this train that has already left the station.  How clever that this criminal has no will of its own and would never “wittingly” do anything.  Do computers have a wit?  I think not, Mr. Clapper.

Where will be the accountability of a government

to a citizenry that has grown tired of defending its own freedom?

(4) Consistent Cultivation of a Complacent Citizenry.  So who do we count on when NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe are snooping, spying, infringing, and breaking the law.  Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that computers, inanimate objects cannot be the silent-silent partners in crime.  The programmers?  They’re just writing code.  The encryption specialists?  They’re just preventing terrorism.  The intelligence community?  We’re not to blame.  It’s NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and certainly NotMe reading all the emails and monitoring calls and credit card transactions.

So what or who do we count on?  According to Benjamin Franklin, it needs to be the public.  The people of the United States who care about the Constitution can be counted on to protect ourselves against such intrusion.  Franklin is also credited with the original thought often attributed to him in this quote:

Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY.”

We are decades into the consistent cultivation of a complacent citizenry.  What have our public schools taught?  Don’t stand up.  Don’t stand out.  Don’t be intolerant.  Don’t use the word “liar.” Just sit back and update your Facebook status for a while.  It’s OK.  Let us gather a bit more facial recognition.  Let us garner a little more of your privacy.  It’s for a good cause.  It’s to protect you from terrorists.

Put your mind in “Pause” for just a moment. What do terrorists seek to do?  Hmmm? 

They want you to alter your entire lifestyle out of fear.  They want for you to blend in and do nothing to go against their jihad of control.  They want you to comply with orders given to you and never question the authority of those telling you what to do, if you know what’s good for you.

But what do terrorists want to do more than anything else? 

They want to seek and kill and destroy their enemies if they can’t convert them.

Who are the enemies?  They’re you.  If you step up, speak out, stand for something, refuse to give up the Constitution, question the authority of those who seek to control a free people, or if you refuse to do things their way.   Hit your mental “Play” button again.  To a complacent citizenry that has been carefully nurtured for acquiescence with “do nothing to rock the boat” attitudes, we need protection from terrorists, the ones without our national boundaries and the homegrown ones within.  Both consistently profess through word and action that a free America is the enemy.

Are you a Christian or a Jew?  Do you answer to a higher authority?  Are you a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness or a Christian Scientist?  Does your religious ideology form your behaviors?  Are you a person who could be assumed to be a white, Conservative, or Colonialist type?  Are you a homosexual or a woman?  It’s not a problem…right?  Wrong. 

If we ever get a President whose jihad is of the self-radicalized Islamist type, you do indeed have to worry.  It could be the Arab Spring American Style.  And we women will be oppressed, be forced into wearing burqas and to submit to the kind of treatment we see of women in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran.  But then again, any of you feminists that stood up to an Arab-American Spring and a Muslim Brotherhood, you could be dead.  That’s also where the gay marriage debate will end if the jihadists have a say and Sharia law takes effect.

This is why we–Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, all of us–must be complacent no longer.  This is why we must pay attention to the signs of the times.  This is why our Constitution is our best friend at present (apart from historic Judeo-Christian values).

Americans are the enemy to terrorists, yes?  Well, if the jihad was just aimed those who kill Muslims, then why the selective jihad?  Assad’s killing so many of his own people, Muslim rebels among them, one must ask:  Why not a jihad against him?  Why attack regular Americans who just enjoy watching the Boston Marathon?  Wake up, America, and smell the Turkish coffee.  There’s an Arab Spring for All Seasons coming.

(5) That’s Entertainment.  But no, we can’t pay attention.  We’re too busy entertaining ourselves to death to enjoy an Arab Spring for All Seasons.  We’re too occupied posting cute little clichés on Facebook.  We’re forwarding pictures of angry cats, adorable puppies, and telling about our children’s potty-training escapades.  No.  We’re too busy with having fun, going to football, hockey, basketball, and baseball games.  Give me a little more bacon.  Give me a little more Candy Crush Saga.  Give me a little more legalized marijuana and time to waste watching Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman.  Give me a little more news that doesn’t matter and add to my gay-news-overload.   Give me more TV shows that don’t matter.  Give me more Beyonce!  Give me anything to drown out, drug up, and occupy my life so I don’t see what’s ahead and the genuine, true, and real danger it poses to me and to all people of faith!  Yikes.  You think Hitler was the only one who wants to kill Jews and Christians?   For many Christians, the only evidence of your faith will be your tax deduction of your tithe so don’t worry.  Your secret is safe with the IRS.  Unless it’s needed to help the Man Behind the Curtain whether at election time or anytime in the future.

(6) Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.  Pay no attention to a government out of control.  Pay no attention to scandals.  Pay no attention to what you’re doing with your freedom.  It was only purchased at the cost of many American lives.  Hey, don’t worry.  They’re already dead and they won’t care.  Neither will you as long as you Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.

Pay no attention to the one who is telling the computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe what to search for.  Pay no attention to the one who is asking judges to call someone an enemy combatant who engages in nothing more than freedom of the press.  Pay no attention to the ones who are sifting through applications since the IRS is antiquated, still using low level staffers.  Apparently, it doesn’t yet have computers named NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe to do their bidding.  However, if present accountability is any indication, those appear to be the names of the staffers in Cincinnati and Washington, DC.  Everyone says they’re taking full responsibility and will hold people accountable.  Mistakes were made, but no one made them! It was NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and definitely NotMe.  Most of all though, Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.

And certainly pay no attention to the Department of Justice and a stacked deck of judges and lawyers ready to help the Man Behind the Curtain because he’s got a file on them too.  No need to worry.  It’s to protect us against terrorists and enemies of the State.  He’s got your back.  He’ll get to the bottom of all these things.  But in the meantime, it will always be NoOne, NoBody, NoPerson, and NotMe that are to blame.  For now, we suck it up that everything is either under investigation or they have no knowledge.  Later on, Mr. Carney can revise his thoughts to say, “Aw, that’s old news.”  Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.

(7) The High Cost of Elites with Power.  The last of my Top 7 Reasons Why the Growing Surveillance State Ought to be Troubling for Everyone is that Man Behind the Curtain and all the elites associated with him think they’re on the inside.  There’s a high cost to regular folks for self-exalted elites to have power.

Therefore, Boehner, Feinstein, King, and Clapper can feel free to tell us what a breach of national security this is.  After all, they’re the controlling group and not among the great unwashed masses in the targeted groups to be spied on, controlled, and corrected.  It’s why today’s Chicago Tribune reports that Snowden’s release of information sent “shock waves across Washington” because it “underscores one of the gnawing worries in the national security community: The more people allowed in the top-secret tent, the higher the risk of leaks.”

Give me a break.  That is utter nonsense.

All it takes to leak information is one person who knows something.  The President, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, Directors of the CIA/NSA, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rod Blagojevich—any one of them has the potential to leak something if he knows information and cares to divulge it for whatever reason.  You could have 1 million honest people in the “top-secret tent” and have a zero percent chance of leaks, if they were all 100% honest all the time.  But you could have 1 dishonest person in a tent of 1 and have a 100% percent chance of leaks… if he stands to gain something by leaking or sending out a trial balloon.   It’s not a coin toss or even bad odds like the Powerball.  It’s more like telling your deepest darkest secret to a friend.  A secret shared is a secret someday revealed.  You can generally count on it.  If you don’t want the truth to come out, keep your mouth shut, or better yet, live a transparently honest life.

So why does the government not want the truth to come out on all of these interrelated scandals? 

That’s the million dollar question.

What is at the crux of the problem of regular citizens knowing what’s going on in a generalized sense? 

Why the big deal about Snowden’s revelations since he didn’t apparently reveal enough “specifics”?  Do terrorists not know we have computers in the US?  Do terrorists think our IT departments at American universities are filled with slackers and imbeciles or rather, do they send their students to be educated here?  Does not Google already scan our emails for information?  Will terrorists shout “Jiminy Cricket!  Google scans emails! We’d better switch to Facebook messaging so no one knows?”  How stupid do the people in the Intelligence Community think terrorists and the American public are?  Absurd!

I’ll tell you what the crux is: It’s that a person doesn’t share secret information with his enemies. 

As long as we’re viewing our enemies as being foreign terrorists, most Americans say that the NSA’s secret monitoring of intelligence and data mining are a good thing.  If only the bad guys are targeted, that’s like saying let’s round up rapists, murderers, and child molesters and put them in jail.  That’s a good idea.

But start rounding up innocent Americans that are political enemies and suddenly, Houston, we have a problem.

Once you, as a government, decide not to share information with the public you exist to serve, I begin to wonder several things.

  • First, have I become your enemy?  Are you targeting me for your gain instead of looking out for my protective benefit?  Have you forgotten that I am the voting public you took an oath to serve and protect?
  • Second, have you elected to become my enemy?  Are you doing something that “We the People” would find criminal?  If not, then transparency ought to take place in the form of non-classified information directly to your public (such as FYI, we are computer scanning your emails just like employers and Google do.)   If it’s not for wrong purposes, why the secrecy?  We also ought to see oversight with classified information to Congress.  All of Congress unless it’s the most sensitive information in which case, the Intelligence Committee is charged with the responsibility for oversight.  Right now, we’re getting too little information and we’re having to drag it out of our government bit by bit,  even when we have a right to hear more than “Sorry.  It’s under investigation” and legal jujitsu like “I don’t recall.”
  • Third, if we are enemies and you don’t trust me with public information I have a right to know, then why should I trust you with my private information that you don’t have a right to know?  And if you’re willing to lie to get a warrant to look deeply into my life, why should I trust anything you say?
  • Fourth, if you’re serious about oversight, then hold the low level people responsible just as you’re hoping to hold your proclaimed traitor Snowden responsible That means the low level staffers in Cincinnati get charged with crimes and if found guilty, they go to jail.  For a long time.  Let them experience the same ruining of their families, their future employment, and their reputations the way they harmed innocent Americans and the way various agencies are ruining the lives of whistleblowers.  Low level staffers need to know that they will personally be held responsible for their role in violating the Constitution.  There’s no computer or legal jargon behind which to hide.  Perhaps if they know they can’t hide behind someone’s orders and they will go to jail, there will be greater transparency.  Perhaps a few more will come forward with the truth…when they know it actually matters to someone and can be the difference between freedom and jail for them.
  • What kind of accountability measures need to be in place?  Ought I have to worry whether my religious and political values will be violated and targeted by any branch, department, office of the US government including any low level staffer with or without security clearances?
  • And finally, what kind of assurances can you give us that people with nefarious purposes have not already infiltrated our intelligence communities by obtaining security clearances?  Or what about expert hackers?  What if they can access that database and mine it for all its worth?  Perhaps they have not leaked things to the press, but what if they are presently funneling vital information on US citizens off to foreign governments, organized crime, drug cartels, and terror organizations, violating those very security systems Snowden’s conscience was so concerned about that he felt compelled to be a whistleblower?

Sorry Mr. President.  Tyranny is as close as the nearest tyrant, pick your party. 

Maybe we don’t have one yet, but really?  Seriously?  Ought we to be paving his arrival path on the privacy of innocents who will pay the price once he’s here?  Without going all Christian-Apocalypse-End-Times on you, history has ample evidence that tyrants come.  Woe to the nation that sends an engraved invitation for one to take up residence with so much information to abuse.

Knowledge is power.  Information is power. 

And that kind of power in a tyrant’s hand is frightening indeed.

That’s why every American ought to be concerned about the NSA’s data mining and storage of your privacy.  It’s a matter of trust.  And, at present, it doesn’t seem the government has earned it or safeguarded it.

Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on June 12, 2013

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