June 11, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

It’s pretty safe to say that we are no longer Private Citizens, but rather wards of the state. 

The main ingredient in the whole “private citizen” thing is actual PRIVACY!!!  Of which, my fellow ‘Merikans, we have none… and haven’t for a good while now. 

RIP Private Citizen - You're Now a Ward of the StateI’ve been writing about this intrusion pretty much since I’ve started with GWP, and I get it: no one is going to stop using social networks or email or cell phones regardless of whether they know this stuff or not.  Here’s the natural progression of where we are with the whole surveillance state:

It USED to be a question of IF the government was spying on us.  Those who said, “yes!” were foil-hat conspiracy theorists.  Turns out the foil mad hatters were right.

THEN it became a question of how often and who.  Those who said, “ALWAYS and EVERYONE!” were again marginalized as foil-hat conspiracy theorists.  Well… two for two, kids…

NOW it’s a question of why so secretive.  I wear my foil-hat like a crown (and nothing says awesome like a good hat-trick) so here goes: to avoid checks and balances or any sort of accountability.  Consider the government the unfaithful spouse who is desperately trying to keep the smell of perfume and lipstick off his shirt.  You know he’s cheating.  He knows you know.  But now he’s just avoiding the headache of having to explain himself.

“If the programs needed secrecy to succeed, will NSA shut them down now? If not, did they ever need be secret? Or did I just blow your mind?”  — Matt Apuzzo (@mattapuzzo) of the AP, June 7, 2013

Private courts like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) are granting the National Security Agency (NSA) access to people’s phone information: not just phone numbers or who you call, but who calls you, the duration of your conversations, and where you were during the conversation!

Upset that the NSA is demanding this information feed from Verizon (and presumably other communication entities)?  Would it disturb you to know that you… not as a suspected terrorist, but just as a regular ole citizen… have been monitored for years under a program called PRISM?  These guys have been offering a feed to the NSA:

·        Microsoft (incl. Hotmail et al), since Sep 11, 2007

·        Google, since Jan 14, 2009

·        Yahoo, since Mar 12, 2008

·        Facebook, since June 3, 2009

·        PalTalk, since Dec 7, 2009

·        YouTube, since Sep 24, 2010

·        Skype, since Feb 6, 2011

·        AOL, since Mar 31, 2011

·        Apple, since Oct 2012

In 2006, USA Today reported the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.”

If you recall, William Binney left the NSA after nearly 40 years because of the expansion of surveillance on the private citizens, and corroborates that while the monitoring of telecom companies has been going on for years, the expansion into the lives of private citizens is a more recent phenomenon. 

Google said to the Guardian UK: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”  There is a distinction to be made between giving government access to files, and offering a feed of information.  I don’t know if either are happening at this point, but given the recent ruling, I’d say: if there is any point of contact between you, your information, and Google, you’re either being watched, or will soon be watched.

But wait!  There’s MORE!

Remember when I wrote about the Biometric Scans brought to you by your nation’s Department of Homeland Security?  You know, the one that will ONLY be used for employment verification processes?  (Yeah, right… an offer made in conjunction with some ocean-front property in Kansas.) How about the Supreme Court ruling on June 3rd, 2013 allowing the police to take a DNA sample from anyone who’s been arrested?! 

RIP Private Citizen - You're Now a Ward of the State 2Justice Saclia wrote the dissenting opinion on this case, seeing the state’s creep into the private lives of individuals… and rendering the 4th and 5th amendments virtually irrelevant.  Look at the pattern of fingerprinting: first the convicted criminals, then arrestees, then civil servants, then immigrants, and in some states everyone with a driver’s license. Finger printing was used as the precedent for why DNA sampling was acceptable and legally reasonable.  But imagine if DNA sample requirements followed that same path?  We start with the convicts but now expanding, under laws passed by more than half the states, to arrestees.  “How long before you’ll be asked to give a DNA swab before you can board a plane, work as a lawn contractor, join the football team at your high school, or drive?” writes Walter Olson of the Cato Institute.

The 5th Amendment protects against self-incrimination.  But now, not only are individuals forced to give their fingerprints, but they are also forced to give their DNA.  Essentially, that which physically defines and identifies you belongs to the state.  It is no longer your property.  This reminds me of the case discussed earlier about how defendants did not want to relinquish their financial reports because that would be self-incriminating, but a judge ruled that an individual’s financial reports were public property!

I stand corrected: The 5th Amendment protectED against self-incrimination.

The 4th Amendment reads: “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.”

You’d think the whole “secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and seizures” would’ve meant something in terms of DNA and fingerprint collection.  Apparently, not!  It would seem there is some semantic wiggle room in the terms “unreasonable” and what exactly constitutes “probable cause”.  I can be stopped and a sample of my breath can be taken for no other reason than me driving on a piece of road at a particular time.  So, I guess it stands to reason (and I use the term “reason” loosely) that our finger prints and DNA can be taken from us simply for being a suspect! 

FOR NOW, the DNA samples being taken from those who are NOT convicted of a crime are disposed of… or at least that’s what we’re being told.  So no need to even THINK about some nationwide… or even worldwide… DNA database being made. 

Never gonna happen…

Only some foil-hat loon would think such a thing…