The End of Privacy


I was disappointed to read President Obama’s solution to the controversy raging over the new American security state. What our president, legislators, and judiciary have done in answer to the controversy created by Edward Snowden’s release of NSA documents is create a merely palliative solution to the grave problems of NSA mass data collection and wholesale spying on the American People. So fearful have we become that our elected officials need only sound the call of terrorism to bring us into line and render us submissive to the final destruction of our freedom to conduct our lives privately.

Future historians will certainly record that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were successful beyond Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams. Americans willingly, even enthusiastically discarded their fundamental Fourth Amendment constitutional rights for the illusion of security. Here’s what the Fourth Amendment says:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This was the old America. We don’t do that any more.

In the new America, lip service is paid to this amendment while the reality is that secret courts with secret warrants enforce secret laws against American citizens who are not even allowed to know they are the object of secret scrutiny. All digital communications—phone and internet—are collected and held just in case someone somewhere does something the authorities don’t like.

I won’t outline the so-called solutions the president announced at his press conference last week. You can easily find them online. The upshot of his “fix” of NSA is this: we are asked to take his word and that of NSA officials that now they will now be good boys and girls and only spy on foreigners, and not spy on us unless we absolutely deserve it.

It is sad to write this on Martin Luther King day. President Obama, an historic president who could have done so much to advance freedom and justice for people all over the world, instead gave in to the secret powers that cannot abide an informed public. These are the covert partners of global banking, agriculture, and pharmaceutical corporations; the helpers of defense contractors bent on selling more weapons; the shepherds of corporations who would control everyone’s drinking water, sell farmers the seeds to plant and sue if they don’t buy more, and destroy every species unlucky enough to be in the path of their greed. And they will sell you the once-free internet, and dole it out to you a kilobyte at time while they read everything you say and watch everyone you talk to, just to make sure you don’t use it to destroy their profits.

Now that we can look at the outside world through the bars of Fortress America’s secret security state, how is the view? Do you feel safer?